Swim with whale sharks
Who: Scuba lovers
Why: We’ve had a few sightings of whale sharks in GCC waters, but they tend to be snatched views of relatively small creatures. The whale shark is actually the world’s largest fish and grows as long as 12 metres, and swimming alongside one should be top of every diver’s wish list. Treat yourself to an underwater camera before going on holiday.
Where: The Maldives is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean known for white beaches and luxury resorts. Stay at the Amilla Fushi resort for total luxury. It is regarded as one of the world’s finest new boutique hotels and is on the Unesco Biosphere Reserve of Baa Atoll. For more information visit www.amilla.mv.
When: They’re year-round residents but tend to favour the Western isles May to December.
While you’re at it: Little else. This is a diver’s holiday where you see paradise above and below water level.
How: SriLankan Airlines flies to the Maldives via Colombo from BD210. www.srilankan.com.
Experience the Olympics
Who: Sporty party people
Why: The spectacle of the Olympic Games meets the glamour of the Rio Carnival for what could legitimately be the biggest celebration in the history of humankind. The atmosphere will be incredible and with days spent watching the games, your nights can be dedicated to the samba.
Where: Rio will be the capital of the world for a few weeks as sport and culture collide. Accommodation ranges from the astonishingly cheap (shared dorms for just a few dollars) to blisteringly opulent. Play it safe and look to a well-known brand name such as the Sheraton Grand Rio Resort and be within reach of major attractions. See www.starwoodhotels.com.
When: August 5-21.
While you’re at it: You can’t fly to the other side of the world and not visit Copacabana Beach while you’re there.
How: British Airways flies to Rio via London from BD700. www.britishairways.com.
Watch the European Grand Prix
Why: The travelling circus that is Formula One is surely the most globe-trotting of sports, and for 2016 Baku will join illustrious company such as Bahrain (of course), Japan, Mexico, Spain and Australia as a host venue. It is a major coup and the perfect excuse to make that trip you’ve been considering.
Where: Azerbaijan’s capital has been staging a minor tourism revolution in recent years. The Jumeirah Bilgah Beach Hotel is out of town but will look familiar to GCC residents as its design borrows heavily from Dubai's Jumeirah Beach Hotel, but with a little bit of Burj Al Arab (and a Thunderbirds rocket) thrown in for good measure. See www.jumeirah.com.
When: June 19.
While you’re at it: Baku’s emergence in tourism circles and attempts at modernisation belies its Soviet past, but you can still see plenty of authenticity from recent years.
How: Turkish Airlines flies to Baku via Istanbul from BD410. www.turkishairlines.com.
Ultimate motor home family road trip
Who: Active families
Why: Staying in a single resort can be boring for kids, and adults want stimuli on holiday as well. A motor home road trip on the West Coast of America ticks at least half a dozen vacation bucket list ideas off in one go.
Where: Plan your route wisely and you will see Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, Los Angeles and San Francisco. What's more, the drive in between won’t seem tedious if you take a palatial American RV with you. Accommodation is as good as a compact hotel room and the open road is your home. Visit www.luxervrental.com for details.
When: American Independence Day, July 4, will guarantee extra razzle with your dazzle.
While you’re at it: Make a list of every movie scene and landmark you recognise from.your RV window. Before you know it you will reach 100.
How: American Airlines flies to San Francisco via London from BD355. www.aa.com.
Go to Glastonbury Festival
Who: Music lovers of all ages and tastes
Why: The line-up isn’t announced at the time of writing, but does it matter? Insiders reckon Coldplay and Adele, but don’t be surprised to see Foo Fighters, Muse, The Stone Roses or Pearl Jam headline, either. The point is, there are hundreds of bands, DJs and more avant-garde performers in a weekend best described as a holiday camp for grown-ups.
Where: Glastonbury Festival is in a farm in Somerset, England. The rural setting is at odds with the deafening festival of music that descends on it once a year, but is actually a quaint country town. In terms of accommodation, there is only one option worth considering and that is to join the tens of thousands of other tent-dwellers on a makeshift campsite. Tickets are sold out for the festival, but like every year Glasto is on, organisers are promising to resell returns and cancellations in the spring, so keep a close eye on
When: June 22-26.
While you’re at it: After the festival, you have the opportunity to see parts of Britain other than the usual London or Edinburgh. Archaeological curiosity Stonehenge is not far, and Roman town Bath and trendy city Bristol are good options for new visitors to England.
How: Gulf Air flies direct to London from BD296. www.gulfair.com.
Visit the world’s best restaurant
Why: Copenhagen’s Noma is, according to many critics, the best restaurant in the world. At the very least it won Restaurant Magazine’s world title in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 and it surprised many when it fell to a lowly 3rd in 2015. Chef and co-owner Rene Redzepi, however, has decided to close shop at the end of 2016, so until his next concept emerges, this is your last chance.
Where: As fantastic as the meal is, the real treat is that it justifies a trip to the incredible Copenhagen. Seemingly obsessed by design and style, Denmark’s capital is a city break for urban-dwellers with a love of modernity. Check out the galleries and museums and revel in the minimalist cool at every opportunity.
Like some of our other favourite European destinations, it has pretty canals dissecting the city. See Copenhagen from the water by staying on a chic houseboat. See www.copenhagenhouseboat.com.
When: There is usually a three-month waiting list for Noma and that is likely to fill up fast (it receives 20,000 requests on the one day a month it turns on reservations) so if you get a table, go then. Don’t worry – Copenhagen can be enjoyed any time.
While you’re at it: If you can’t get in at Noma, one of its ex-chefs recently opened Amass and we’re pretty sure they’ll do a decent dinner, too.
How: Pegasus flies to Copenhagen via Istanbul from BD133. www.flypgs.com.
Groove to jazz in Venice
Who: Art lovers
Why: Visit Venice for the same reason millions of others have. For romance, art and the pursuit of beauty. It has a concentration of galleries and museums that would make even a Parisian swoon, but it is the city itself that is the true work of art. Fifteenth century buildings still stand and from a gondola on one of the many waterways it is hard not to start humming opera to yourself. Especially if you visit during the annual jazz festival, which actually sees a whole range of talented international and Italian musicians perform around the city.
Where: Stay as close to the grand canals as you can get. There is a good chance you will only visit once in a lifetime, so splash a little more cash on a lavish hotel such as The Gritti Palace. Luxury and elegance the likes of which is rarely seen outside of a fairy tale princess story with history and charm to boot. Visit www.thegrittipalace.com for more information.
When: July (exact dates to be confirmed).
While you’re at it: Eat as much Italian food as you can. Big meals, snacks, bread, gelato, cheese and more.
How: Emirates flies to Venice via Dubai from BD253. www.emirates.com.
Have a clubbing holiday
Who: Hardcore party folk
Why: A couple of Bahrain nightspots boast about their “Ibiza-style atmosphere” and Balearic soundtrack. See for yourself by heading off for a couple of weeks in the self-styled clubbing capital of the world. Every night, the clubs in town host big-name DJs, and if you wander along the strip, you'll find venue after venue of head-banging beats.
Where: Most of the nightlife happens around the resort of San Antonio, where young Europeans take to the streets in their thousands looking for loud music and the freedom to dance until dawn. If you’re not used to package holiday mentality, it can be a bit disconcerting, so the fishing villages and old parts of Ibiza may be a more suitable base. The Ocean Beach hotel is right in San Antonio Bay so at the heart of the clubbing, but manages to retain a boutique exclusivity. Visit
When: Nightclubs here close during June, making this a good time to make a special journey to the holiday home of dance music.
While you’re at it: You will need to sleep in the day, but it really is worth making the trip to Ibiza Old Town to see the sites of what is actually a Unesco World Heritage site.
How: You'lll have to make two stops. British Airways flies to Ibiza via London and Madrid from BD500. www.britishairways.com.