Play Hard

4 travel destinations worth dusting your passport off for

Written by High Life North
Published 03.04.2021

By Emma Stephens


For yoga at sunrise or cocktails at sunset – Ibiza delivers every time

Flight time – 2 hours, 45 minutes

With 2,883 hours of sunshine a year and 10km of coast, it’s no wonder that Ibiza remains a perennial favourite. It’s the perfect destination, whether you’re seeking hedonism or health.

An island of contrast, the party animals among you may want to make up for lost time in San Antonio or Playa d’en Bossa for the all day and night pool party scene at Ibiza Rocks. But if you’re desperate to feed your soul after 12 months at home, the best spa and wellness retreats are found further North.

Ensure you make time to roam the charming streets of Dalt Vila, with whitewashed walls and terracotta rooftops, before a climb to the top of beautiful Castell de Eivissa and Es Vedr, where you’ll find breathtaking views.

Put on the list:

  • Hike to the top of Sa Talaia
  • Visit the hippy markets
  • Take a sunset cruise to secluded coves

Splurge: Bed down at Nobu Ibiza Bay – where the super chic go for laidback luxury and the food doesn’t disappoint.




Perfect for explorers seeking a little romance

Flight time – 3 hours

Historic Dubrovnik is a fascinating city to explore with beautiful beaches, fabulous food, picturesque fishing villages, cobbled streets and charming boutiques within impressive city walls.

This most upmarket Croatian destination boasts sophisticated bars and restaurants alongside sailboat tours of the car-free Elafiti Islands, where you can explore underwater caves, go kayaking and cliff jumping.

A 15-minute boat ride from the port will take you to uninhabited Lokrum island – home to an abandoned 11th-century monastery, where you can swim in the saltwater lake then dine at Lacroma restaurant for the best squid ever.

Put on the list:

  • Cable car ride to the top of Mount Srd for stunning views followed by dinner and drinks at Panorama restaurant
  • The beaches of Banje and Sveti Jakov
  • Bar More for drinks inside a unique cave leading out to the coolest panoramic deck
  • Watch a film below the stars at the outdoor cinema

Splurge: Push the boat out for a fabulous meal at Nautika or a Michelin-starred meal at 360


Villa Dubrovnik – £250.00

Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik – £136.00

St Joseph’s – £82.00 


For beach bum luxury with a side of Mexican spice

Flight time – 9 hours

On arrival in Cancun, get a transfer to laidback Tulum where you’ll discover a natural paradise in this tropical hotspot. A hidden gem of powdery white beaches and lush jungle awaits with Mayan ruins and a chilled cosmopolitan mood.

Spend your days sipping fresh coconut juice from your lounger before drifting to dinner of soft shell crab and ceviche at Arca. With a bohemian vibe, you can leave your high heels at the door – but if you want cocktails and a DJ set, head to Gitano on Fridays or the Sunday salsa party at La Zebra.

After one too many tequilas, join a traditional Temazcal ceremony (where a shaman helps you sweat away the toxins in your body). But if that’s a little too out-there, the sunrise at Santa Fe beach is glorious.

Famous for the Mayan ruins and spectacular cenotes unique to this area, Gran Cenote and the less crowded Laguna de Kaan Luum are our favourites.

Put on the list:

  • The compulsory photo at the bent palm tree sticking out over the ocean
  • Burrito Amor for the most authentic Mexican delicacies
  • Watch the sunset from the rooftop terrace of Mateo’s Mexican Grill
  • Head to Batey Mojito and Guarapo Bar for mojitos served from a converted VW Beetle
  • Ziggy’s Beach Club and Papaya Playa Project for all day beach club comfort

Splurge: It’s hard to splurge in Tulum, but pay extra to fly a drone and get striking aerial shots of the cenotes


The Beach hotel – £165.00 

Delek Tulum – £125.00 

Hotel Tiki Tiki Tulum – £128.00


A slice of high-end glamour in a multicultural metropolis

Flight time: 7 hours

It’s no wonder Dubai remains the most-searched for holiday destination. With miles of pristine sandy beaches, classy hotels and restaurants, high-end shopping and year-round sunshine, it has it all for those craving luxury travel but step away from the bright lights to explore the less predictable side.

If you have a head for heights try the zipline through Dubai Marina, or a memorable dinner in the sky suspended by a crane 50 metres high. Feeling active? Nothing beats desert dune bashing or, for an alternative ladies night, head to Ski Dubai for fun on the slopes. Just go steady on the après ski til you’re off piste.

Dubai Creek area, best reached by abra, is where you’ll find the traditional souks, selling everything from spices and hand-woven textiles to perfume and gold.

Put on the list:

  • Have clothes tailor made for you in Satw
  • Hire a yacht and sail along the beautiful coastline
  • Bubbalicious at the Westin or London Social at Ritz Carlton JBR for bottomless Friday brunch
  • La Mer for laidback catch ups at Dubai’s eclectic beachfront.

If you’ve already exhausted Dubai, consider exploring the other Emirates such as neighbouring Abu Dhabi, or going over the border into striking Oman.

Splurge: Spend the night in the desert with Magic Camps for a truly unique experience


The Address Beach Resort – £88.00 

W Dubai – The Palm – £90.00

Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf – £75.00 

For more information about these destinations and hotels, or help to travel smarter, contact Emma here 

These are unusual times. Country restrictions and venue openings change daily. Please check the latest travel guidance before travel and ensure you have proper travel insurance.

Flights are from Newcastle. Costs are examples only per person, per night. Based on two people sharing on a bed and breakfast, travelling between June and September.

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