Backpack not required: exploring in style

Getting off the beaten path doesn’t mean discovering a new country or taking a boat, bus and tractor just to find somewhere unique and unspoiled. It’s simply about venturing off the tourist trail wherever you are, whether you’re on the east coast of Australia, in the middle of Paris or on a walking tour of Rome. There’s always a way of finding something unique; somewhere away from the masses.

Which brings me to the concept of luxury holidays. Just because you’ve paid to stay in a fancy resort and feel like having a bit of pampering doesn’t mean you can’t do some exploring off the resort itinerary. Places like Antigua, Bali, St Lucia and the Seychelles are promoted as having luxurious resorts in gorgeous surroundings that will perfectly complement the masseur’s gorgeous bottom, but they’re also the best kinds of places to explore off the beaten path – because everyone else is too busy lying around getting their back rubbed.

If you get dry heaves at the thought of going somewhere that’s not in the resort’s brochure, try these little gems to get you started…

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Devil’s Bridge, Antigua
Organised tours don’t come here and it’s tricky to find, so you’ll only be in the company of other intrepid explorers. Devil’s Bridge is a natural limestone arch carved by the sea over centuries and is so photogenic you can’t fail to take a stunning shot of this beauty as the sea sprays up over the rock. Walk around the headland to get further off the beaten path and work off all that sugarcake.

How to get there?
Positioned on the east coast, head to the Verandah Resort and Spa. Take the track behind the resort and follow until you find Devil’s Bridge.

© Dr. Justin Gerlach

Silhouette Island, Seychelles
Nature lovers and hikers will love Silhouette Island. The third biggest island in the Seychelles, you can only get there by helicopter or private boat, which is a great way of keeping out the hordes. Silhouette Island is situated within a Marine National Park and is one of the richest biodiversity hot-spots in the western Indian Ocean. The island has no roads, instead boasts jagged granite cliffs, stunning mountains and beautiful beaches. And if you stay late enough to watch the sun set you’ll really be in for a treat.

How to get there?
Catch a helicopter or a boat from Beau Vallon (Mahé).

Seminyak, Bali
Close to the popular village of Kuta, this little suburb was hidden away until recently when the luxury market suddenly discovered it, although it is very much still tucked away from the masses. For unique accommodation in Seminyak the W Hotel is the place to stay. With an underwater bar, the opportunity to star in your own Bond movie and bikinis in the minibar you’ll certainly go home with a few stories to tell. The hotel’s motto is ‘Whatever you want, whenever you want’ – and they mean it. It opens in December 2010 and is a great place to spend Christmas – and there won’t be a turkey in sight. Unless you want one of course.

How to get there?
Seminyak is close to Kuta on the south coast of the island.

© geographia.com

Betty’s Hope Sugar Plantation, Antigua
If you want to do something totally unique in Antigua, check out the deserted sugar plantation in Antigua called Betty’s Hope,  a disused building that is now preserved as a monument to the workers. Afterwards, rejoin the masses by having a delicious lunch in the converted sugar mill.

How to get there?
The plantation is near a town called Pares in the east of the island.