Globe Trekker Best Beaches takes traveller Justine Shapiro on a month-by-month tour of the world's number one hot spots and chill-out destinations. Whether you're an intrepid traveller, seasoned back-packer or just pleasure seeking holiday maker, whatever your style your dream beach awaits.
January - In the Northern Hemisphere the cold grey month of January is time to head off on your hols, where sunshine, white sands and clear blue waters await you. Justine doesn't mess about, she hot-foots it to the ancient Mayan city of Tulum on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.
February - Neil Gibson discovers the finest beaches around the fishing village of Montezuma in Costa Rica, where a strict eco-friendly tourist policy preserves its natural assets and wildly contrasting beaches.
March - The Mexican state of Baja California, surrounded by hundreds of miles of unspoilt coastline, is dream destination for nature lovers. In March the whale watching season is in full swing and Ian Wright explores the region to find the best beaches off the beaten track.
April - The coolest, driest month to visit the South American tropics and Ian Wright visits the country that invented beach culture, Brazil. There's secluded beaches all along the coastline but they don't get more remote than the northern village of Jericoacora. It's a rough journey but well worth it for the stunning scenery and fantastic fishing you'll find there.
May - The Philippines has an island for everyone and Shilpa Mehta checks out paradise on earth on the island of Boracay. There's a variety of active pursuits on offer for those whose dream vacation involves more than lounging on the sands. Shilpa takes a diving trip to some of the best diving sites the islands have to offer.
Best Diving Beaches - On the Banda Islands in Eastern Indonesia there's incredible marine life just waiting for the underwater explorer. Ian Wright goes to the Solomon Islands whose waters are loaded with shipwrecks sunk during World War II. The wreck of the Tamaroo lies 100 yards off the coast of Gizo Island and is littered with artefacts from daily life on board.
June - The Mediterranean is a tourist magnet like no other in the summer months of the northern hemisphere. Corsica, the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte is the place to come if you want some serious water sport action. On the neighbouring Italian island of Sardinia is La Costa Verde, a gorgeous stretch of coastline, where large scale tourist developments are prohibited and you can camp on the dunes for free. Coves, lagoons and ancient ruins recommend Turkey's Lycean coast, best visited by boat.
July - Zanzibar is famed for its unspoilt beaches and exotic spices. Ian Wright relaxes in Breju after his long journey, where the beautiful seashells on the seashore are protected but the seaweed is a major local export.
Best Beach Huts - There's nothing like waking up on the beach, with sand in your hair and the waves lapping at your feet. On the South Pacific island of Tanna, Ian stays in a typical beach hut made of palm leaves. At the other extreme is Benin on the West coast of Africa, a French colony in the nineteenth century where some of the elegant buildings have been turned into sophisticated but inexpensive hotels on the seafront. Beach huts at Cape Leveque on the West coast of Australia prove useful for sheltering from the fierce midday sun and on Lola Island in the Solomons Ian finds hammocked bliss in an isolated spot, accessible only by boat.
August - Nha Trang is considered one of Vietnam's coastal jewels, though you wont find the usual seaside pursuits here - the Vietnamese practise the martial art Tai Chi by the sea in the early mornings.
September - Ian Wright visits the small island of Kadavu in Fiji, where the beaches are a haven for diving and snorkelling fanatics. Ian takes a boat trip to feed the sharks - not a pastime for the faint hearted but he reckons a well fed shark is a safer shark!
October - By October the monsoon has usually broken in Goa, the former Portuguese enclave on the West coast of India. Famous as the beach-bum capital of the world, the 60s and 70s hippie enclave still offers deserted beaches and lively markets, like Arjuna market, started by the hippies who had to sell the contents of their rucksacks to raise the fare home. The less populated shores of Varkala in the south west are a popular new hang-out for hip young travellers, though Varkala has been an important Hindu pilgrim centre for centuries.
November - Australia is a mecca for cool dudes, surfers, babes and backpackers and the social scene revolves around sun, sea, sand and surf. There's no better time to visit Byron Bay than in late spring. It's a laid back, funky little town with plenty of bars, restaurants, surf shops and places to stay near the beach. If surfing is not for you, take to the sky - hang gliding for the best aerial views of the promontory.
Best Surf Beaches - Seasoned surfers will be familiar with Namberala Beach on Roti Island in Indonesia. It's virtually unknown to most travellers but a temple to die hard surfers like Mark Crowdy. If you want to hit the surf as soon as you touch down, urban surfing in Durban will be right up your street. The four miles of fabulous surf attract all standands of surfer and Justine Shapiro meets South African surf hero Shane.
December - Beach hopping takes on a whole new meaning in Southern Thailand. From the town of Krabi, Justine Shapiro takes a sea canoe trip with eco warrior John Grey, aka Caveman, whose environmentally friendly tour takes her to limestone islands riddled with half submerged caves and grottoes.