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18 April 2024

Experience the blues this year

Antarctica (SUPPLIED)

By Primrose Skelton

The Arctic might not seem like the most appealing place on earth – with average temperatures of -50c – but this year it has become the place to visit according to a new travel book.

Travel publication Lonely Planet has captured 850 of the world's hottest, and coldest travel trends, destinations, journeys and experiences for the year ahead in the Best in Travel 2009, and it includes the top 10 blue places – whether that be seas, mountains or music. Lounge on the beaches of Champagne Bay in the Pacific, explore mountains in Jamaica or visit historical religious sites in Brazil or France.

If sightseeing gets too much, relax with a drink in the Netherlands Antilles, visit an art gallery in the United Kingdom or listen to the sweet sound of Muddy Waters, Earl Hooker and Howlin' Wolf in Chicago, USA.

There's nothing about these destinations that will have you feeling down.

Chicago – USA

The legendary musical style of hard living and even harder partying is synonymous with the 1950s American Midwest and no man typifies the genre better than Muddy Waters, the 'Father of Chicago Blues' who shot to fame.

Today's scene continues to revolve around Maxwell St and is celebrated with the annual Chicago Blues Festival in early June, where what you feel is as important as what you play – to quote Waters himself: "I been in the blues all my life. I'm still delivering 'cause I got a long memory."

Blue mountain peak – Jamaica

Think Jamaica and what comes to mind? Beach holidays, white sandy beaches and the home of reggae and Rasta? Maybe, but just 40km east of Kingston is Blue Mountain–John Crow National Park, established in 1990 to protect the island's remaining forest and largest watershed area.

At 2,256m, Blue Mountain Peak is the king of the mountains; hike the summit trail predawn to see the glorious sunrise. Blue mists often shroud the mountains, giving them their unique colour.

LA Basilique Du sacre coeur Du Montmartre - France

To the north of the River Seine and the heart of Paris sits Montmartre, a romantic neighbourhood of cobbled streets, sleepy cafes and ivy-covered balconies.

Overlooking it all is the magnificent 19th-century travertine stone Basilique du Sacre Coeur. On long summer evenings, lovers litter the steps leading to the city's highest landmark. Buskers sing of revolution and street artists perform. Below them unfolds the most spine-tingling of Parisian vistas.

Yves klein's IKB 79 at Tate Liverpool - UK

International Klein Blue (IKB) is one of the modern art world's most baffling creations, yet also one of the most lauded.

Yves Klein, a French artist spent years searching for a 'unique' hue of deepest blue to express his artistic feelings.

In 1958 he finally found it, and proceeded to slap it all over anything he could find. IKB 79 is his definitive work, a monochromatic rectangle of purest blue.

Blue Lagoon - Vanuatu 

On the northeast coastline of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu's largest island lie the unspolit beaches of Champagne Bay, lapped by crystal waters and a popular stop-off for Pacific cruise ships.

The bay was used as the location for the 1980 film The Blue Lagoon.

Tours to the nearby freshwater lagoon of the same name command a hefty fee, so just stroll barefoot on the sand and kick your way through the surf – escapism like this doesn't cost a bean.

Jodhpur – India

Located in northwest India and dating from the mid 15th-century, the ancient city of Jodhpur in Rajasthan is famous for the pastel-blue buildings of its old town.

Originally designed for members of the priestly Brahmin caste, the distinctive blue whitewash was thought to deflect the burning sun. Nowadays, the crumbling buildings in the city's heart are amongst Jodhpur's oldest, shared equally by humans and monkeys alike.

For the best view head to the fantastic Mehrangarh Fort, located on the outskirts of the city.

Blue river Canada 

In a land of gargantuan scale, Blue River is but a tiny speck. With a population of fewer than 300, this outpost between better-known Kamloops and Jasper offers spectacular mountaineering, glacier adventures and wildlife encounters. Sure, you could head to one of the bigger resorts, but what's the point? This is British Columbia, where less is more. For solitude on an unparalleled scale, head off by kayak to explore Murtle Lake and Wells Gray Country, where moose, bear and eagle abound.

Blue Curacao – Netherlands Antilles

Golden beaches and azure seas mark Curacao as the definitive Caribbean retreat, famous for the drink of the same name.

Made from the dried peel of the bitter Laraha orange, the vivid blue colour remains a mystery but suits the island's style perfectly – the red, green or orange versions just aren't the same. For the ultimate kick back head to Jeremi Beach to watch the sun go down over the rocky cove; sip a drink, and you're in paradise.


With an annual average temperature of -50C on the polar plateau, no wonder Antarctica is dubbed 'The Freezer'. In these conditions the body allows the extremities to cool in order to preserve core temperature. The result? Frostbite. To avoid this painful and potentially disfiguring condition, stick to the more northerly Peninsula region, where the mercury can regularly tip the positive side of zero. Here, bird and sea life thrives, although you'll be exposed to some of the continent's strongest winds, enough to chill those digits all over again.

Christ the Redeemer Statue - Brazil 

Spectrometer at the ready? Got your UV filters? And what about those people over there – do they look happy? In 2006 a survey set out to find the ultimate blue-sky destination, taking scientific measurements and soaking up the ambience along the way.

Data analysed, it was Rio de Janeiro's Christo Redentor that came out tops. Paul Landowski's 40m-high concrete and soapstone marvel sits atop the 700m Corcovado mountain, affording one of the world's defining city views.