If you're beginning to feel as if you've been living under the chilly financial shadow of the fiscal downturn for too long, then shake off the hood of austerity and start planning your 2010 Beach Break at one of these wallet friendly, sunny, sea-y and maybe even sandy destinations.
Ten Best Beach Breaks 2010
Marsa Matruh on Egypt's Mediterranean coast doesn't have the marine life off the coast of the Red Sea resorts like Sham el Sheikh, but its beaches are comparably beautiful – long, white and sandy – and it's far less developed, so not on the radar of many of the travel agents that pack out the Red Sea side resorts and much cheaper. If you visit in summer you'll have to share it with local holidaymakers – but that does inject a healthy dose of buzz into this otherwise quite sleepy town and gives it a bit of a kick when it comes to night life.
Mexico is bouncing back from being considered swine flu central to become an even cheaper destination than before – and it's had a reputation for being good value for dollar holders for the last few decades.
One way to experience the Mayan Riviera is on the Espreso Maya, which is a luxury train journey visiting some of the region's best known Mayan treasures: Villahermosa, Campeche, Mérida, Palenque, Uxmal and Chichén Itzá.
As well as being the place where Africa, Europe and the Arab world meet, Morocco also gets a lot of sun and has lovely sandy beaches. That it's just outside the Eurozone brings the prices down, but the intoxicating flavours and primary colours of the county's culture make Morocco's coastline more than a bucket-and-spade-bring-your-nanna-beach-bumming destination.
Lively Fes is Morocco's fourth largest city and as far as the creators of inexpensive package holidays are concerned, has a good mix of culture, history, shopping and comfort – especially if you stay in a riad, but Casablanca and Essaouira benefit from being right on the coast, as well as from Moroccan staples like vibrantly exotic bazaars, unique architecture, graceful mosques, sandy surrounds and unusual local cuisine.
Bulgaria's Black Sea Coast
Varna and Burgas, and the smaller towns between them running along the Black Sea Coast are some of 2010's thriftiest beach break destinations – expect to pay between £300 and £400 a week for a villa with a pool right by a stretch of golden sandy beach.
Burgas wins points for having an airport and a reputation for knowing how to have a good time once the evening comes around, but surrounding it are a string of much prettier and more peaceful resorts.
Varna has the Black Sea Riviera's other airport, and is also, unusually, both one of Bulgaria's prettiest and most modern cities – with all the charm Renaissance and Medieval buildings bring to a place, yet all the benefits of all mod cons and amenities. A string of beach resorts also run up and down the coast out of Varna: Elena, Albena and St. Konstantin are the names to look out for when you're making your final decision.
WR blogger Nora Dunn recommends it because it's become one of the least visited of the Hawaiian islands, but its resorts have also been hit hard by the credit crunch so there are some cheap opportunities to sample the pleasures of its water sports, diving, snorkelling, cycling, golf, jungles and volcanoes.
Not many people know it, but Big Island has the world's tallest mountain, if you count from below sea level - it even gets snow! And of course that's before the quintessentially perfect beaches, the surfing or hula are even mentioned.
Turkey was 2009's big discount destination: lauded for having the sun and beaches the Med is famous for but with better food, some culture thrown in and all for half the price of the rest of the Med. And though some Turkish resorts have caught on and are charging more in 2010, some have added more rooms to meet demand so hopefully prices will still be friendly.
Dalaman as a destination saw the biggest increase in visitors in 2009, but the pretty harbour city of Bodrum was another popular spot. Antalya and Kusadasi are good if you're looking for a beach bumming kinda break, but Patara's 12 miles of beach is backed by a national park, and its sand dunes hide Lycian and Roman ruins.
Tunisia shares a Mediterranean coastline, Morocco's North African sun, and has even more sand – much of the Sahara Desert with all its stories of romantic journeys lies within Tunisia's borders. It's also outside the Eurozone, AND is where Star Wars was filmed.
For beach breaks Djerba and surrounds is a good destination to consider – the diving is world famous and the night life around the central hotel district happens, as they would say, but if you want a quieter holiday there are more traditional or cultural entertainment options further south. Sousse is another coastal option, and Tunis, the capital city of medina, mosque and Ancient Carthage fame is right on the sunny Gulf of Tunis, if you fancy more of an exotic city and beach break combined.
If Italy is a boot then Puglia is in the heel: a countryside less visited, yet one of olive groves, sea and sun, and excellent quality Italian food. It's just not as squeaky clean as Tuscany or Umbria, which is also why as a tourist destination it's quieter and cheaper. This coastline is at the junction of two seas, and it's been attacked and invaded from both sides, but these days there are far more invading Italians in the summer than any other nationality.
The bits around Penisola Salentina are the whitest, but up near Promontorio del Gargano you're more likely to find limestone cliff faces and bright green seas.
Rio might seem like it spends all its days lying around on sandy beaches drinking mojitos surrounded by people in skimpy swimming costumes playing beach volleyball before going out dancing 'till dawn, but there's a lot of activity going on in this town at the moment – more than you'd usually get in the lead up to Carnival.
Rio is getting ready to host the 2014 World Cup followed by the 2016 Summer Olympics, so there's a lot of building work and a lot of new accommodation going in that needs to be filled in the lead up to these events.. So get in early for some sun, samba, shopping and Sugar Loaf Mountain.
The name doesn't do these isles many favours, but their location, off Lands End at the very bottom of the UK, should – with better beaches and weather than the rest of the country you're not really in the UK any more, Toto. The shallow and un-frigid turquoise seas round the Isles of Scilly run up soft sand on five inhabited islands: Tresco, Bryher, St. Martin's, St. Agnes and St. Mary's - which is by far the largest - and around 145 uninhabited islands. It's not just the balmier weather that gets people coming back – the lifestyle is a bit on the balmy side as well: very laid back.
Before they really got into the tourism thing the islands made a lot of their money growing plants that didn't survive as well across the rest of the UK.
And one extra:
For a beach break somewhere more unusual, car free Lamu Island was one of Kenya's first settlements, and has the 14th Century architecture to prove it, as well as some of Kenya's best beaches. Shipping trade with other nations means Lamu's culture is colourful, but it's predominantly Islamic so ladies bring something to cover your shoulders and knees after your swim.
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