The penguin parade at Summerland Beach on Phillip Island is a must. OK... so it's a bit touristy, but to be honest you forget that when you sit on the beach waiting for the little penguins to come up onto the sand.
At sunset the anticipation grows and suddenly you see one penguin running tentatively out of the water to check if it's safe. The penguin will run in and out of the water several times until a signal is given... and then thousands of penguins come running up the beach and the cliffs. It lasts a couple of hours - and it's a great sight to see.
There is a visitors' centre there which is OK - and you can buy photos of the penguins as you are not able to take photos of the event itself... unless you happen to find one or two in the carpark like I did. The basic admission is about AUS$17, and you will be there for most of the evening.
Phillip Island is 90 mins drive from Melbourne City. Driving by car is easy, but it is probably easier to join one of the coaches to get there. www.penguins.org.au
Apart from its outstanding beauty, wait until the afternoon to see thousands and thousands of blue crabs appear from beneath the surface of the beach. It was the most memorable thing I saw in all of Oz. Outstanding.
Airlie beach region, Whitsundays Islands
Google map: tinyurl.com/npam7x
What do you want when you go on holiday? Great scenery, things to do, excellent restaurants... oh hang on, let's throw in some world class adventure sports and free wine, and not just some cheap plonk but some of the high-end stuff, too.
Despite its rather sedate sounding name, Margaret River, three hours drive south of Perth, has all of these.
It's the home of world-class surfing competitions with frighteningly large waves which break against the rugged coastline with awesome power and regularity.
It's the home of Moss Wood, Leeuwin Estates and a hundred other world-class wineries, many of which have cellar door tastings and attached restaurants.
The local produce is so fresh and tasty that most of the restaurants deliver something a little special. Vasse Felix is particularly good for a smart dinner, but most of them are interesting.
Margaret River Cheese Co. (yummy cheddar), Chocolate Factory, Simmo's Ice Cream and Bootleg Brewery are all good stops between wine-tastings.
And that's just inland. The coastline of this area is one of the most beautiful on this side of the continent - or any side of any continent to be frank.
And the coastline offers up plenty of places to stay: north to south you've got Dunsborough, Yallingup, Gracetown and Prevelly/Gnarabup, where you'll often get stunning sea views from your deck, as you sip your day's purchases.
Some of the comments on Perth are pretty critical - but they also miss one of the great advantages: when you've got an area this beautiful, you don't want it to get too over-crowded. Margs gets pretty busy around Christmas, but the rest of the year you can normal find a corner of it - a beach-break, a vineyard, a restaurant - to keep to yourself.
Margaret River is three hours south of Perth. We like staying at Bavu Beach House www.bayubeachhouse.com
This is a great place for a relaxing in. The resort is aimed at couples and is a fantastic escape from the rest of the dime-a-dozen resorts. We went in March for our honeymoon and were very happy with the resort.
It is situated on a long stretch of golden beach with hardly anyone on it. The resort's accommdation was minimalist cool and the staff very helpfull and friendly.
For a great "switch-off" holiday then this is the place, the exact opposite of phuket.
A fab place a short way out of the city, good bus route straight there. Kind of theme park which is excellent and fantastic beach and hotels, if you can have a night there defo recommend it.
Just a short bus ride out of the city
Pretty self explanatory really, runs along the beach. Best walked on the weekends when all manner of strange and fabulous people emerge, reminiscent of Glastonbury at times, but, you know, with fewer annoying middle class students. Watch out for various street entertainers including a guy who walks literally 6 inches behind you, imitating everything you do, to the amusement of everyone sitting in the cafes. Rollerblading or rollerskating along the sidewalk is best if you can manage it, or rent a cycle. Parking can be found at one of several large lots right next to the beach for around $10/day, park at Marina del Rey and walk up to Venice past Muscle Beach and the basketball courts for a longer stroll, stop at the Sidewalk cafe for a margarita before heading back or further north to Santa Monica.
Take a drive down to Manhattan Beach. Enjoy the pier and beach, but do not miss out on this fantastic restaurant. It's clean, inexpensive, friendly, with utterly delicious food. They have many tasty dishes suitable for vegetarians (but not vegans), as well as the standard Mexican fare very well prepared. I lived in L.A. for many years and ate there regularly.
1005 Manhattan Avenue, Manhattan Beach, CA
A lovely private villa set in an idyllic setting near Mandrem beach (north Goa). The villa was the perfect place to relax and unwind, with its own large swimming pool and even a maid. If you want to visit Goa but want to enjoy a touch of luxury while you are there I would reccommend this place.
www.goaretreat.com, 01626 772880
The Bahia Cabana is both a hotel (Days Inn) and bar on the south end of Ft. Lauderdale beach. My recommendation is more about the ambiance of the tiki bar than the accommodation, so don't go staying there based on my comments! "Beach Resort" is a stretch if you ask me.
It is truly one of the last remaining, typical Ft. Lauderdale beach bars. Famous for their "rum-runner" drinks (ok, who isn't?) it also is a relaxing and fun atmosphere to wind down your day. Sitting alongside Fort Lauderdale's largest boat marina, you can watch the day come to an end as people bring their boats back in, unload their fish (or suntan lotion) and discuss very easily with the locals.
If you go to their website, it looks like a dump I have to say, but do stop and have one drink if you're in the area. I guarantee you'll stay for two!
It’s not signposted and its existence is denied by the locals, but this impossibly large beach is the most beautiful strand in Ireland and no-one else seems to know about it. The water is warm and the sand hot, while cattle graze the fringe of grass on the sand dunes. A little graveyard sits uneasily on the weather-worn shore.
Ipanema beach is lined with tents selling food and drink, and renting beach chairs. We like the one run by Jorge, located between Posto 9 & 10, right in front of the Caesar Park hotel. It's called Ordem & Progresso (the motto from the Brazilian flag), and the employees wear shirts in the Brazilian colors of yellow and green. Give your name to Jorge at the tent, and you can run a tab, to be settled when you leave the beach. Until then just wave, and their folks will bring sandwiches, soft drinks, beer, caipirinhas, piña coladas... the latter comes in single (served in a cup) or double (served in a pineapple). Delicious (and huge). The sandwiches are tasty. Best of all, the folks are cheerful, quick, and honest.
Ipanema Beach, in front of the Caesar Park hotel.
Costa de la Luz is a beautiful, as yet unspoilt part of Spain on the Portuguese border. If you go off-peak you can still find hidden, deserted beaches, traditional fishing villages, and unlike the Costa del Sol, Spanish people!
Costa de la Luz stretches from Huelva in the west to just short of Algeciras in the south.
Nearest airports are Seville or Faro.
Huge white-sand, palm-fringed beach that stretches for 30km, and can be almost empty on weekdays.
There are deckchairs to rent and kiosks selling fresh seafood and drinks, as well as a few restaurants and top-end hotels.
Located about 4km from Hoi An. Easily reached by bike from Hoi An or taxis cost approx US$3.
Both the Damai Beach and Damai Lagoon Holiday Inn resort hotels are excellent places to stay in a secluded, beach area surrounded by jungle, about 45 minutes drive from Kuching. Double rooms go for a mere £30 per room.
Damai Beach: Teluk Bandung Santubong, Kuching; tel: 60-82-846999;
Damai Lagoon: Teluk Penyuk, Santubong, Kuching; tel: 60-82-846900;
There is a shuttle bus to both from the Holiday Inn in Kuching.
This huge beach (some say 18km, some say 23) is beautiful. I have never been to such a peaceful secluded beach in the Med - lovely.
If you are feeling energetic take a walk from the 'town' centre past the bread and water restaurant and follow the road. Eventually you come to the sand dunes. Time it right and take a bottle of wine to enjoy a beautiful sunset.
Relax on the beach in style by day – rent a sun lounger, get a massage and have food and drinks brought out to you – then party by night. Great place to watch the sunset from the beach bar, which then has DJs and dancing til late. Also has restaurants if you want a fix of western food (Indian, Italian etc).
72 Tran Phu, Nha Trang;
tel (84-58) 826 528;
If you only visit one of these beaches in the Golfo di Oresei, make is Cala Marioulu. This is hands down, the most spectacular beach I have ever seen. Pristine white rocks that you could eat your lunch off and turquoise seas that you have to see to believe. An unbelievable experience.
There’s a great scenic drive from Westport, out through Louisburgh down to Leenane. The mountains shoulder each other aside above the black moorland bog pools while tiny cascades tumble over boulders worn smooth with time, their waters stained rich with peat.
All around the area are huge beaches, the Silver Strand being one of the best. These are strands to wander along at the water’s edge and feel the winds drifting in from warm ocean currents born in the tropics.
A very long stretch of pure white sand and sparkling, azure sea make this beach a great place to relax while in Trinidad. Being fairly flat, the tide hardly goes in and out, so there is never a walk of more than a few paces from your towel to the sea. The sea is very calm – few or no waves, and very safe for kids as you have to wade out quite a way to get out of your depth – there are also lifeguards on the beach. You can rent paddle boats and canoes from Hotel Ancon.
There are only three or four hotels sharing the beach – and these are very spaced out, so you can find a spot to yourself quite easily. If you walk down to the bottom end of the beach there are very few people around – this is the where the locals come for their days out.
Note – there are no general facilities at this beach and all the hotels are inclusive, though it is easy to get talking to the beach guards, who will let you use their loungers for the day and fetch you drinks from the bar for a small fee (negotiate down from their first offer!). One of the hotels will let you eat from their lunch buffet, depending on which guard you ask. One of the hotels also has a shop, though it sells little more than ice-cream, crisps, biscuits and drinks.
Get a taxi from the centre of town, or wait for the beach bus which goes backwards and forwards several times a day (though not to a specific timetable!). There are always plenty of taxis waiting at the beach to take you back to town at the end of the day.
When you need a break from the city head east (along with most of Thessaloniki) to the Chalkidiki peninsula, which has what many say are the best beaches in Greece. Try the less developed 2nd or 3rd leg and some of the beautiful old towns like Arnea. A beautiful area to discover.
Thessaloniki's east coast.
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org