My life in travel: Kris Marshall

'I love the coastline of Cornwall. When the sun is shining, it's like God's country'

Actor Kris Marshall has starred in television series such as My Family and films including Love Actually. Most recently, he appeared in the BBC's Death in Paradise. Series three is available on DVD.

First holiday memory?

I lived in Canada when I was younger and my parents bought a 1970s caravan. My earliest holiday memory is driving it down the East Coast of the United States to Florida, where we went to Walt Disney World. They later brought the caravan back to England and we used to go on these holidays, called "caravan rallies", pretty much every weekend. I've haven't been anywhere near a caravan since.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Cornwall. My friend's mum used to own a holiday home there, so when I was a student, we used to go down. It was where I first fell in love with surfing. I later bought my own little lock-up-and-leave, because I have such an affinity with the place, the coastline and the cleanliness of the water. When the sun is shining, it's like God's country.

Best holiday?

Spain, after my son was born. I'd spent the whole summer working in Manchester filming Citizen Khan and then went straight into the last couple of weeks of my wife's pregnancy.

She had a rough birth, so I spent five days sleeping on chairs in the hospital. Eventually, we brought our son back home, walked into the house and said: "Let's get out of here!" So, we loaded up the car with a three-week-old baby and got the ferry to Bilbao. We drove down to Valencia and I spent a couple of weeks in a villa, eating great food and drinking nice wine, with my new family.

Greatest travel luxury?

A surfboard. Try backpacking in Indonesia and taking boats between the islands, or catching a bus from Marrakech to Essaouira in the middle of the night, with an eight-foot board. It's just impossible! You lug this thing around the whole time and resent it so much, all for that five-minute window every week when you catch a nice wave. It's completely unnecessary so it's got to be the biggest luxury. You pay for it in blood, sweat and tears.

Holiday reading?

Anything autobiographical. In hindsight, Lance Armstrong's was hilarious. Michael Caine's is always great too, because my dad gave it to me when I was starting out as an actor and it became like a bible to me when I was very young and struggling.

Where has seduced you?

Douala in Cameroon. It's purely relative, because I've just spent five months in the Congo jungle, shooting this film called Oka! Amerikee, where I was subjected to parasites and eating nothing but plantain and emperor fish. Afterwards, I was flown out from a tiny airstrip, over virgin rainforests, to Douala – which is not the prettiest sight on earth, but looked like Valhalla to me.

I went to this guy's house who was one of the producers of the film, swam in his pool and went out for dinner at a hip restaurant where I ate steak for the first time in five months. To sit with all these glamorous Cameroonians, eating this steak, made me giddy.

Best hotel?

Villa Mahal in the Turkish resort of Kalkan. It's an amazing hotel carved into the cliffside. Each room is completely individual and it had a jetty with sunbeds where you can dive straight into the Med. The food was brilliant, the wine was fantastic and the whole place was spotless.

Favourite swim?

Kynance Cove in Cornwall. It's only exposed at low tide and the sea is on both sides of a promontory with two beaches facing each other. You can grab a quick surf and the sand is lovely because the sea covers it twice a day. I quite like the jeopardy of it, too – if you don't get out before the tide comes in, you're in trouble.

Best meal abroad?

The Beach Chalet in San Francisco. It's right on the Great Highway, just outside the city, overlooking the beach. Locals go there on a Sunday morning because it's a fantastic place to go after a heavy night in the Mission.

Where next?

At the moment, I spend six months of the year shooting in Guadeloupe for Death in Paradise. We get a week off in the middle, so I'll pick an island to go to with my family. Last year, we went to Saint Lucia and Saint Helena. This year, it will be one of the other Caribbean islands, not too far from Guadeloupe that has good childcare.