Vassiliki is a quaint fishing village on the southern coast of the Ionian island of Lefkada. Excellent restaurants line the harbour front where diners can enjoy their meals while watching local fisherman tending their boats. There are many small B&Bs or flats to choose from and from which you can explore the surrounding area. It is an easy drive to the island's dramatic west coast beaches or the local winery. There are also several isloated beaches within walking distance from the village. The bay is a popular wind-surfing spot in the summer.
Vassiliki is on the west coast of Greece in the Ionian Sea. It is only 5 1/2 hours from Athens by car, or 45 minutes from the closest airport at Preveza.
Amathia is an uninhabited island off the coast of the larger island of Kassos in the Dodecanese. A local boat will take you to Amathia where you will find deserted beaches, clear waters and, usually, very few othewr people. It is a tranquil place where a day passes like a dream. Take food and water with you.
There are flights from Athens to Kassos via Rhodes, or ferries from Piraeus,Crete and Rhodes.
Hotel Andreas on Agistri. This is a really friendly place for couples and families who don't want the usual hotel package with entertainment et al. The best recommedation for Agistri is that it's where the Greeks go for holidays! We love the place. Also known as the best-kept secret in the Saronic Islands, only an hour and a half by catamaran from Piraeus.
Mykonos does have the reputation for being a party island but if you are looking for a serious bit of R&R, head to Ostraco Suites. Situated on a hilltop just above the hustle and bustle of Mykonos town, this is a fantastic place to stay. We were met at the airport by one of the staff and welcomed with an upgrade on arrival to a suite for a few nights which was heaven! Rooms are really luxurious and the breakfasts are served on the veranda - fresh fruit, home baked breads and so on - the list goes on. If you do feel like heading into the lively town centre, try Interni restaurant, an incredible setting tucked away in the old town and delicious food/cocktails. One other tip, Ostraco Suites will organise jeep hire for you - we hired one for a few days to explore the island and stumbled across beautiful Fokos beach, deserted with a huge stretch of white sand (just remember to take your own picnic/water etc as there are no bars or kiosks nearby, just one taverna on the beach only open from 1-7pm!)
The island of Ikaria feels off the beaten track in Greece. It is a mountainous island, near Samos in the eastern Aegean with some beautiful beaches. You need your own transport as buses are almost non-existent and when you are away from the main roads you often find yourself driving on dirt roads. Ikaria is a bit of a voyage of discovery. For me, a special place is to be found near the small village of Arethusa, half way up a mountain side, with a wonderful view of the sea – here you find the Ikarian Centre, where you can stay, and if you wish, join a Greek language course. I stayed there for 2 weeks in 2008 and it felt like I was part of a small community for a couple of weeks; a world away from busy urban life and busy tourism. We learnt some Greek, and we learnt about the island, and Greece; we went hiking, had a cooking lesson, learnt some Greek dances and had plenty of time left over to swim and explore the local tavernas.
For those of you who need to pinch the pennies this year, I'll let you in on a little tip.
The full-on party resort of Laganas in Zante is often top of the list for cheap and cheerful package bargains with tour operators, but it is also a little too hectic and youthful for those of us who are after a relaxing break away from it all.
However if you want to take advantage of low prices and have a civilised holiday experience simply take a short and scenic walk west along the beach, around a headland and past a tiny islet, to discover a small, welcoming and attractive village with its own beautiful beach and a much more authentic feel.
An uninhabited island called Marathonisi, or Turtle Island, lies opposite Aghios Sostis' bay and is named after the creature its shape resembles - the Loggerhead turtles that nest their eggs on the pretty beaches surrounding the island. The rural setting of Aghios Sostis is set against the peaceful countryside of olive groves and pine trees and an imposing mountain backdrop.
If you want to get out and about in Zante there is plenty to see and do: Navagio (Smugglers) Cove with its impressive white cliffs and pale sands is a sight to behold; the Blue Caves, discovered in 1897, are breathtaking for snorkelers and sightseers alike; the Byzantine and Venetian capital of Zante, Zante Town, is the island's cultural and commercial centre with many shops, museums and churches; and last but not least, there are many tiny and traditional mountain villages to be explored.
So for a credit crunching holiday - stay in Laganas but holiday in Aghios Sostis!
Aghios Sostis, Laganas Bay, Zante, Greece.
Two summers ago I went with my partner to the Isle of Mull in Scotland
for our summer holiday. We camped on a wildly beautiful beach for a
week (I feel guilty to say where - to spoil the secret - but there are
plenty to choose from) and then we treated ourselves to two nights in
a little luxurious hotel. There are also loads of beautiful bed and
breakfasts and little hotels and we have never eaten so well in our
lives - always fresh local produce, lots of fish and home grown
We had such an amazing time that last Summer we decided to
go to Scotland again - this time to the Isle of Skye and then across
to Harris. Again I feel guilty to tell the secrets of this place but
the beaches on Harris in particular are mindblowingly beautiful. When
we show people our holiday pictures, they don't believe it is Scotland
- white white sand beach - all to ourselves, with turquoise blue sea
and the most serene mountain backdrop.
We had two days of horrible
rain but the rest of the time it was blazing sun- we both came home
with deep tans after 10 days. On the 2 days that it rained we went sea
Glenelg Beach is a pretty beachfront suburb, about 20 minutes from the centre of Adelaide, popular with locals who want to escape at the weekend. The golden sandy beach, quaint jetty and side-walk cafes are paired with coastal reserves, nature trails and boats off on dolphin cruises.
The Glenelg Beach Hostel is like much of Glenelg beach, modern and funky with a kitsch seaside feel. The hostel is housed in Alexander Terrace, a Victorian house that has been converted into dormitories and private rooms. The rooms are spacious and comfortable and refreshingly bunk-bed free. You also get a free breakfast served alongside brilliant beach views, and with a brand-spanking new lounge bar and beer garden (complete with DJs!), you can return home to a pint of Pale Ale after a day's sightseeing.
A bus from the centre of Marseille will take you to the head of the trails (through some unsalubrious bainlieues) that lead over craggy limestone peaks to one of the Mediterranean's most beautiful coastal features, the calanques. A little under an hour's walk will lead you to beautiful Sormiou and Morgiou, with pint sized beaches and tiny hamlets sandwiched between dramatic cliffs strewn with shrubs, cedars and maritime pines. The water is crystal clear and sheltered so that it is calmer and warmer than the open sea. On summer weekends, the calanques can get busy with daytrippers, but the rest of the time they are a picturesque treat to enjoy with only a few other people. There are other calanques more easily accessed by boat or from the neighbouring town of Cassis.
Calanque de Sormiou and Calanque de Morgiou, south of Marseille. You can drive the whole way along winding, precipitous, unpaved roads, but as the weather is usually good, it's best to walk - though remember to bring lots of water in summer time! Buses no22 & 23 run to Morgiou and Sormiou respectively from the Rond Point du Prado metro stop.
Coco Loco is nearly five years old and is one of the best backpacker hangouts in Canoa. Owned by a friendly Alaskan woman and her Mexican partner (and his georgeous son mini-Mao), this is the friendliest hostel we encountered in Ecuador.
With a happy hour every night, small snacks restaurant and palm-fringed hammock garden, the Coco is a communal, friendly place that seems to be the hub of activity in this otherwise quiet surfing beach 70 km south of the Equator.
Beds from US$5, awesome breakfast, 24 hour hot water, great staff, hammocks, book club, trip organisation including an awesome totally organic eco-farm/school nearby, happy hour and overall atmosphere make this the place to be!
One of the larger guest houses, set in the hills above Amanzintoti, with glorious views of the Indian Ocean. On a clear day, the ripples in the sea are dolphins swimming up and down the coast.
The accomodation is split over several houses/bungalows each with their own character. All the rooms are very comfortable.
Due to the steps down to the lower levels, the infirm need to be careful.
The laundry services is a bit on the pricey side compared to other guest houses
The quiet town of Amanzintoi springs to life on a Friday and Saturday night as all the young seem to congragate around this club. During the week the place shuts at 9PM, but its party, party at the town's only night club.
Don't let FMG put you off this otherwise sleepy resort, known for its beaches, the location is near the N2 away for the residencial areas
Follow the Ne south from Durban to Amanzintoti, and turn onto Kingsway, the clubs is by the main shopping centre.
Mesmear is a farm with a number of barns which have been converted to the highest standard. It is tucked away down a little lane close to Polzeath, Rock and Padstow so an ideal location if you love walking, the sea and great food!
We stayed at The Barn and it truly was a home away from home. So much thought has gone into this property that every detail if not forgotten - the decor is very comtemporary and luxurious and here are some nice touches such as local produce waiting for you for your first breakfast, an honesty bar, yummy toiletries and underfloor heating.
Mesmear also runs cookery courses which you can do in your property which was a lot of fun!
My husband and I found it was the perfect couple retreat, whether it be in the winter when you can stay in and enjoy the wood burner, or in the summer when you can make the most of the location...but it would also be great for families or groups of friends. Try it!
This must be the best I have stayed in. I walked up from the nearby beach looking for a cheap lunch. I stumbled over this place with views over the bay to the front and an ancient greek ruined temple to athena on a mountain to the left. The owner - 'el capitan' - is the son of a converted oxthodox monk who escaped to mount athos after the death of his wife. El Capitan offered me a free lunch if I would transcribe the lyrics of his daughter's song so he could read them - his spoken English is not so good.
I went back to the beach and suggested to my friend that we might stay at El Capitan's that evening for dinner, some drinks and a bed. We could not afford his rooms so we slept in his small-holding, underneath an olive tree and surrounded by tomatoes on two double beds he keeps out there for such occasions. We showered in his outdoor shower - a hose head held aloft by wire and surrounded by vines for privacy.
That cost us €5.00 a piece.
A great guy with a fascinating mistress and wife. All three of whom are full of stories, anecdotes and souvenirs. His wife keeps a collection of ancient miscellany from the neighbouring temple that she finds on her walks.
We joined a family gulet cruise with an onboard archaeologist. We were a little uncertain how much 'history' there would be and how the children were going to like the cultural site visits, but it turned out to be a great mix. The kids swam and swam, jumping off the gulet into the crystal waters, and were fascinated by all the Greek and Roman sites. They turned into historical detectives, young Indiana Jones's, exploring 2000 year old temples and putting on plays in ancient Greek theatres.
When we were thinking of booking, we found the fact that our guide would be taking his own family and gives his name to the company very reassuring, and it turned out to be well organised and truly inspirational. I only wish I were back on the boat being cooked for and enjoying the sunshine!
Very simple and beautiful, go to Watamu, near Malindi in the north. It has the best easily-accessible marine park in the world, which you can swim out to from the beach or take a small boat. The reef is not far and you can swim beyond if your a good swimmer, the rest you just flow with the current.
There are great reasonably priced hotels and resorts and white coral sand beaches, no chavs from down south and you can get in a short safari as well. Should cost about £1,000 for ten days. Family friendly.
My partner, baby and I booked a cottage in Lynmouth for a mid-winter break, returning after zooming down here on a scooter for our first date. In December it was more than dead; it was buried and mummified. The furnicular railway linking Lynmouth and Lynton was closed, and although there were visitors wandering during the day wrapped up against the elements, the walks along Watersmeet were beautiful and the beach was suitably blowsy and slate-grey, after dark the only sound you could hear was the wind whistling through the empty streets and the shutters of the closed fish and chip shop and cafes clanging in the distance. Sadly, this isn't so much a village now as a museum piece; there was nowhere to buy a pint of milk or even a newspaper and of the three pubs and bars open there was only one we could take our baby into for dinner and that was just into the empty dining area, not the warm and cosy bar.
If you want to stay here in the winter I would recommend staying up the hill in Lynton, where there were human beings visible after 4pm, open shops to buy food and provisions, a greater selection of eateries and when we visited, a great Christmas shopping festival. We couldn't fault our little cottage on Watersmeet road, but next time we will be visiting Lynmouth for a trip to in the day and making Lynton our base.
If you want something at medium cost, family friendly, snorkelling from the beach (or from plentiful cheap boats). Simple. Turtle Bay Beach Club, Watamu. Don't ask me, ask my kids! It's like their second home.
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