Weather provided by APIXU

These islands have some of the world's most idyllic, secluded and photogenic stretches of soft white sand fringed by tall palms and virgin jungle. Many of the best bays are already occupied and maintained by the major resort-style properties.

The Duty-free status means that Kuah and some hotel emporia can offer significantly cheaper designer fashions, perfumes and electronic goods. The choice is not particularly wide, but visitors do not generally come here to bargain hunt. Traditional batiks, pewter and local jewellery are the normal souvenirs.

During the daytime activities are centred on the individual hotels for beach relaxation or an energetic array of water sports and leisure activities. Water sports is one of the principal attractions with windsurfing, water-skiing, sailing, catamarans and snorkelling the most popular pursuits. NB: some beaches have banned motorised fun to protect coral reefs.

The nightlife is generally low-key and confined to the hotel complexes, some of which provide regular live music and unsophisticated discos.

Eating out is restricted, there is not a great deal of sophistication outside the hotels. Kuah has a couple of international fast-food chains and a selection of very affordable Chinese, Malay, Indian and Thai restaurants with seafood in abundance.