Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!
Nothing says HOLIDAY like being beside the seaside - but there's more to a great seaside holiday than sand quality and a nice view. Many of the world's best beaches rate so highly on the WR lists because they're remote and unspoiled, but unless you like camping, or sailing on your own, your seaside holiday might be improved by more comfortable surrounds, either a pretty town with nice cafes and restaurants or a shop hiring out watersports equipment or just selling ice creams.
Pretty Seaside Villages
For the best beach experiences in any given country it’s wise to follow the locals; and the Turks head to the seaside resort of Ayvalik, along Cataltepe Beach for their summer holidays. Ayvalik's streets are lined with palm trees and olive groves and have lush views over clear Mediterranean waters, while excellent local restaurants serve up the finest Turkish cuisine.
People living near the Baltic holiday by Sopot Beach, a spa town blessed with clean, white, powder sands. Once the choice of the aristocracy, Sopot's historic sights, small boutiques and cool clear water is now priced for all. Or Warnemünde Beach on Germany's bracing Baltic coast – which has chilly water but wide, pale sands on which people sleep on at one end.
Sleep by the Sands
Other suggestions for a beach holiday experience that means literally sleeping on the beach, include Sardinia's Cala Sinzias beach on the Costa Rei, which is a sweep of white backed by Mediterranean pines and cliffs that shelter it from the wind all the way up to the far end where there's a campsite called Camping Limone Beach; and Les Sables d'Argent Campsite, where you can fall asleep listening to the crash of huge Atlantic breakers along a stretch of private, rugged coast which will have you spending your days wearing yourself out surfing, windsurfing and watersport-ing of all kinds.
Come on down, Watersports Enthusiasts
Some beach holidays are about more than just sunbathing on the sand. For more active seaside destinations try Mawgan Porth Beach, a raw beauty near Newquay, well known for its surfing conditions, or the Baia Chia on Sardinia. With rounded dunes, that rise up to 30 metres before breaking like waves over the flats of the Baia Chia beach and into the turquoise coloured water, as the waves and wind come in from the other direction the scooping wind conditions are perfect for surfing. Baia Chia also has a diving school, but not a full watersport-ing infrastructure - for that head to Olu deniz. Olu deniz has an ocean beach and a lagoon beach, so you can learn to surf, windsurf or kitesurf on the lagoon side, then test out new skills on the ocean side. The dunes here are the stuff of paragliding fantasies, and the views below water aren't bad either. The sum of all these parts is a view so lovely this is one of the most photographed beaches in Turkey.
If, instead of panting under the sun, your idea of a perfect beach break involves a lot of just relaxing on the sands, try a quieter destination like the Curonian Spit, a peninsular of shifting sand dunes and pine forests on the Baltic, which, as yet, few Western visitors have discovered.
Being surrounded by sea on all sides is another attractive trait for a seaside holiday destination to have. Sunny, windswept, Baltic and formerly East German, Rügen Island is only three hours from Berlin, and its calmly lapping shores are perfect for families, and thick beech forests loved by walkers and cyclists. Gotland in Sweden is afforded long, long hours of sunlight for its long, long stretches of sandy beach. Pitch your tent wherever you like and soak up the cool independence of sleeping under scattered summer stars and spend your days roaming ancient churches and your evenings frolicking on pale sandy beaches. Very Famous Five.
The Ile de RÈ's sand dunes, fields of poppies spotted with sunflowers, pine forests and pretty ports can be reached by road bridge, but Eileen Shona, off Scotland is difficult enough to get to to make it really private. The island's Shoe Bay is one of the nicest beaches in the UK, and with only four holiday cottages available, and one of two ferries a day, you have a good chance of being the first one to lay your footprints down on it. This is the kind of place where it's quiet enough to 'get things done' which is why J.M Barrie rented it to complete the script for Peter Pan. Another suitable UK option is St. Brelade's Bay on Jersey. It's the island's most popular surfing beach, but also lined with restaurants, cafes and watersports hire shops – and apparently the sand is soft and there's a nice community feel in season.
People Watch and Party
For the kind of animals that like to party, Bloemendaal aan Zee, a three hour drive from Amsterdam, is one of the destinations touted to be 'the new Ibiza'. This beach resort town has 4.3 kilometres of blond sandy beach along its coastline and behind them terrace bars and cafes, some which turn into clubs in the evening and host what are reported to be some of the best parties outside of Amsterdam, no doubt attended by many of the Amsterdam party animals too. There's also a section for naturists if you're a nudist more than a hedonist, and the Nationaalpark de Kennemerduinen is at the beach's southern edge keeping things looking beautiful.
Pop Along the Coast for the Afternoon
If a seaside holiday is out of the question here are some spots worth popping out to for the afternoon. Palombaggia Beach, part of the Cerbicales National Park, is a fifteen minute drive from Porto-Vecchio, and its pale Corsican sand and is backed by a pine forest which acts as a windbreak and embraced by an arm-like natural harbour of rosy rock. Egremni Beach on Lefkada can only be reached via 350 stairs, but you get a great view of the whole of this crescent moon shaped bright turquoise and white Mediterranean beach from the staircase on the cliffs above. The only thing to stop this beach becoming one of the world's best is the walk back up the stairs at the end of the day.
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