Maybe I'm biased because it was where I asked my wife to marry me, but the beach in Negril is one of my favourite places in the whole world. Obviously it's a long and sandy paradise, facing west with great sunsets. But it also has great bars populated by locals. And it's a good place to buy something to smoke. I never made it as far as Hedonism II though - which may be to some people's taste.
I spent a day here in August with our two children. The beach is amazing with golden sand lined by the forest. Near the car park there is a cafe which does a tea and all you can eat cake selection for about three pounds: I had six cakes; bargain. The nearby town of Simrisham is beautiful and further down the coast is the world's most perfect beach at Sandhammaren.
Check out the rum and fruckost named Karlberg, just north of Ystad on the Malmo road.
Sweden is not expensive, it's a myth.
South East Skane
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
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.
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.
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.
Get out of the city and head for the not too distant beaches of Cornwall, North Devon or the Gower in South Wales. Alternatively, Bath and its newly restored spa waters is only a short ride on the train.
Bath, Cornwall, South Wales, Devon.
Lopud is reached via a one hour ferry crossing from Dubrovnik. Unusually for Croatia, it has sandy beaches; that was part of the appeal to us. The other was that the island is completely car free. Indeed there is little traffic at all aside from some little tractors and buggies carting people and luggage about. Each morning, locals cluster round the port to unload produce and supplies from the ferrys - everything comes to the island from the mainland and everyone living there seems to know each other!
The north coast of the Dingle peninsula is a golden necklace of beaches reached by those narrow lanes that get narrower and narrower and have grass growing down the middle and potholes which threaten exhaust systems.
Walk the strand for an hour at Castlegregory on a hot July afternoon and work off a lunch of seafood chowder from a little bar in the village. The only other sign of life is a pair of squabbling gulls which follow hopefully.
Mykonos's finest beach, for the views, quality of sand and the people: think transatlantic/European 20-, 30- and 40-somethings, style-conscious, but still relaxed. There are three coves, becoming more gay and secluded the further you go. Clamber over the rocks to the next beach and a stunning taverna where you can eat in a shady garden.
Elia is one of the most easterly beaches on the south coast. Takes about 20-30 minutes on a moped, and twice that long in the old fishing boats from Ornos;
Conveniently close to Athens (a couple of hours on the boat from Piraeus), this island, like most of Greece, is laden with history and is a favourite destination for many artists. The Canadian bard, Leonard Cohen, has spent several years of his life writing music there, and owns an old house close to the small port.
The laidback coffee places by the seaside are great to spend lazy hours in and enjoy afternoons gazing out to the sea and the clear skies.
Note that cars are not allowed on this island so most of the moving about is done either on bicycles or donkeys.
Hydra is about 30 miles from Piraeus, which is where you can catch a boat or hydrofoil from. Journey time is about two hours. There is also a connection with the coast of Pelopenese via water taxi.
How to get there: www.hydradirect.com/info/gettingtohydra/gettingtohydra.htm;
More information: www.hydradirect.com
On the Purbeck peninsula is a pristine National Trust beach, a two-minute chain-ferry ride from Sandbanks. The long stretch of sand is stunning and has views of the mouth of Poole harbour, the Isle of Wight and sailboats and huge ferries coming in and out of the harbour on their way to Brittany. Bring a picnic and get there early – it’s popular but still undeveloped, thankfully.
Every weekend hip Amsterdammers descend on the beach 20 minutes outside the city. By day the area is a sea of gorgeous looking bikinied bodies and surfer dudes lounging on over-sized cushions and hammocks, by night there is dancing in the sand at one of the Ibiza style-clubs. It's a glamorous hippy vibe with yoga classes held in between DJ stints.
Trains to Bloemendaal leave from Amsterdam Centraal Station every half-hour. It's a short taxi ride from the station to the beach.
A sandy island off Faro, in the Ria Formosa Marine Reserve, Farol is remniscent of the Caribbean Keys. White, immaculate sand, shallow emerald waters and very few people around.There's one little bar open in peak season but its offer is very limited. So bring food and drinks. If you have a boat, the setting is perfect: dozens of pretty, desert white sand islands and the clearest sea water possible. If you want you can skinny dip all day.
Half an hour by boat from Faro or Olhão harbours. Scheduled boats only from June to September, though. Otherwise you can easily get a local fisherman to ferry you there and back.
Niembro is a beautiful tiny village in Asturias, close to its border with Cantabria. This gorgeous beach, also known as Toranda, is surrounded by soft green hills, and by little tiny islands and rocks, the sand is extremely fine and white.
There's also a nudist beach within walking distance on the other side of a hill.
I've been to many beaches around Europe and Niembro's is certainly the one I've found most captivating.
Niembro, not far from Llanes, Asturias.
This sandy playground of the young and beautiful is located just 20 minutes north of Copenhagen on the S-train line to Klampenborg. With views of Sweden across the sea, this stretch of fine sand is lively on hot summer days. Alternatively, try the charming, century-old sea baths next door called Bellevue Beach Baths.
Take the "C" line of the S-trains from Copenhagen; www.bellevuestrandbad.dk/?int_pageId=1
A huge beach, and the most popular one for nudists in the Lisbon area. The cliff and views from the pine groves above it are truly beautiful. There are natural springs and mud pits for skin cleansing and it feels wild and natural, but is only 35kms from central Lisbon. The Restaurants and trendy haunts in nearby Meco Village (walking distance) are great.
About 35kms south of Lisbon from Lisbon. Take the A2 South Highway towards Sesimbra and after Fernão Ferro turn right to Alfarim and Aldeia do Meco, and right again to the beaches.
Sintra is wonderful. If you have more time take the old tram from the terminus near the art gallery over to the coast - some good beaches there and a lovely run to them. Trams are infrequent, so plan!
Regular trains from Sete Rios station or Entrecampos station (Estação Rossio closed at time of writing)
Nothing beats a summer's sunset than watching it along Spanish Banks. Just aim for Jericho Beach and walk along the beach until you find your perfect log.
The view stretches from the cruise ships on the horizon off to Alaska to the mountains to the city.
The atmosphere of couples and families just relaxing is unbeatable. Truly the best way to see the city's beauty.
I love this place for Sa Trincha's bar and the Jockey Club. Chill out under the warm rays of the sun while listening to some of the coolest sounds of the summer. A place for the happy smiling people. Magic.
10km from Ibiza Town, at the southern end of the island. Hire a car or catch the bus.
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