I always feel a little nostalgia when I return home from Coll. I've been twice and on both occasions it has been truly special. Not only is the island beautiful (perhaps because it is so isolated) but the locals on the island are so welcoming. I think its the simplicity of the place which captures my love for the Island. And you feel a sense of belonging there. On top of this, my reason for visiting has caused my admiration for the place to grow as it is where the charity Project Trust are based. It is this organisation which are allowing me to spend a year out in Thailand taking on projects in both teaching and orphanage work at the age of 18. Therefore I associate Coll with the positive prospects which I would not have received had they not have existed. Visiting the Island is all part of the Project Trust experience yet I would urge anyone to visit. Be it the Coll show, the golf tournament, Ceilidh dancing, fishing competition or beach football, there is certainly enough to keep you occupied. Or whether you fall more for the tranquil side which Coll offers: the unbelievably picturesque beaches, the wild flowers, rare birds or sea life you can find complete escapism here. Need I say more...
A magical place that is often missed by travelers. Town beach has the most beautiful turquoise water, contrasting with the lush green mangroves,the yellow sand and the red pindan. Join the crowds and watch the famous extraordinary staircase to the moon. Or wander round the quirky night markets. Fancy a spot of cliff jumping for the adrenaline junkies at the stunning Gantheaume point? Be on the look out for regularly spotted turtles, dolphins and whales. Don't miss out on the spectacular sunsets at cable beach. Unwind with a glass of wine and a bbq. Just another day in paradise.
Google map: bit.ly/pmRBop
A family-run chiringuito (beach-side bar). It is so hidden away it’s even pretty unknown to the locals too. From the slope on the way down, you wouldn’t imagine that it is an eating establishment: there’s nothing to indicate its restaurant status, no bells or whistles, like signs. It doesn't even have electricity, running on a generator. It simply is what it is, but it serves the freshest fish you can imagine and has a never-ending view of blue skies and sea. They do offer a menu with the dishes that are always served, for example, tomates aliñados (tomatoes with garlic, drenched in vinegar and olive oil), chips, fried eggs and green peppers. However, it’s always best to ask the owners what is available on the day, since it depends what the fisherman, father of the family, managed to bag in his net and bring back that morning. Be sure to try the choco (cuttlefish) – I can guarantee that it will be the biggest that you have ever set your eyes on. The coquinas (small clams) are yum too. And don't forget sardinas when they are in season (any month without "r" in Spanish).
It's a little tricky to get to. Either park up near the Playa Rocío campsite and trek down the sandy slope, or walk approx 2 km along the beach from Matalascañas. Open from April through summer.
Google map: bit.ly/ql4E39
Approximately four and a half hours south of Rio, Trindade is a small village on the coast with some of the most stunning beaches in Brazil. White sand contrasted with turquoise sea and framed by green forests - it is like paradise. Sometimes you might be the only person on the beach,there are no crowds here.There are also waterfalls and natural pools to explore - don't miss the 'rock that swallows'. Stay at the chilled out Sea and Forest Hostel with log cabins amid the trees to complete your experience.
This is the 'remotest bunkhouse' on the west coast of Scotland situated in a beautiful bay at Ardintigh on the south shore of Loch Nevis with a fantastic view over the sea to the Cuillin mountains and across to the remote peninsula of Knoydart. It is only accessible by walking or by sea and our party arrived by various methods including walking, boat taxi and canoeing via Loch Morar (deepest loch on the UK mainland). It is a wonderful place for adventure or just chilling out. We spent a long weekend canoeing and walking and thinking about swimming! The accommodation is in small wooden bunkhouses scattered around the bay with plenty space for campers too. We cooked in the large bunkhouse by the beach (showers and toilet block under the kitchen and dining room) We went as a small party of 11 but the site sleeps up to 24 (plus extras camping). You can go as a group or as individual at £15 per night for the bunkbed (take your own sleeping bag).
The sunsets are wonderful and the last night we watched the sun go down not long before midnight after a beach barbecue. I almost forgot to mention the whale ...
Samoa maybe little known as a tourist destination, at least in comparison to its neighbour Fiji, but it has stunning scenery and prices are some of the lowest in the South Pacific making it perfect for anyone on their gap year. Taufua Beach Fales is as close to paradise as you can get on a gap year budget. Sleeping in traditional open Samoan fales (wooden platforms on the beach) you wake up to the turqoise sea lapping metres from your fale. Food at Taufua is excellent with meals varying daily and including some excellent fresh fish. Don't forget to sample the excellent cocktails during happy hour! The vibe here is really relaxed and everyone is friendly. It is full of backpackers from all parts of the world and everyone is here to relax, do some snorkelling and have a good time.
Some people on their gap year come to the Lalomanu area to help reconstruct it after the devastating tsunami in 2009. The whole of Taufua Beach Fales was wiped out. Construction work continues and people wishing to give something back to the community are most welcome there.
Take the public bus (around £1) for the three hour trip from the airport to the beach fales. These buses are old Bedford trucks with no windows and wooden benches. It is definitely an experience and really get's you settled in to 'Samoan Time'.
An atmospheric gem of a lovely informal old house with accommodation and a little traditional bar in an exquisite remote setting overlooking a bay. They serve exceptional spanking fresh local seafood cooked to perfection at very good prices with a few tables looking out over the lovely view. But it is really the atmosphere of the place, the laid back and unpretentious welcome from each family member that makes it like visiting friends, the traditional little bar where you can get a pint of Guinness and hang with the locals, listen to music, have a seafood snack, and then at the end of a brilliant night of chat and craic you can fall into bed in one of their newly renovated bedrooms with lovely views across the bay.
Dawros Bay House & Joe’s Seafood Bar, Rosbeg, Co. Donegal
+44(0)74 954 5252
Google map: bit.ly/rc9EUt
Tucked away at the end of a built up area is a pleasant walk along Bangor Pier. This has views to Anglesey on the way there, a cafe selling great home made scones at end, and a view of the mountains on the way back.
Take road diagonally opposite the public swimming pool, and at the end is a car park for pier.
Google map: bit.ly/qwJn7D
Come off the M6 at junction 35. Morecambe is just a wonderful place for a stop off, and only a few miles from the motorway. Park anywhere along Marine Road, and take a bracing, and hopefully sunny walk along the sea front. If you're there late afternoon, the light can be glorious and taking photos of the sands, the boats with the Cumbrian hills over the bay is just a dream. Finish off with a cup of tea and scone at Eric's Cafe on Marine Road, which is just behind the delightful statue of Eric himself.
Eric's Cafe: 245 Marine Road Central, Morecambe LA4 4BJ
+44(0)1524 412 051
Google map: bit.ly/oKuoyX
A small creole restaurant next to the beach is perfect for anyone who wants to sample some traditional Creole cuisine. You will need to be patient as it will take at bit of time for drink and food to arrive. Sundays are their busiest time during lunch. It takes at least 10 minutes for a bottle of wine or drinks to arrive to your table, and at least 15 minutes for the food to be in front of you. One good thing is that you can order first, and then go for a dip in the sea or sit out to sun tan to build up your appetite while waiting for the food.
The best dish to order is balaou fish. You can ask for it coated in breadcrumbs or tempura like.
The grilled lobster with sauce chien is also good, but will take at least 20 minutes to arrive.
The restaurant doesn't have air conditioning, but you would not need it as you will be lunching or dinning while wearing bathing suit.
Avenue Robert Deloy - Grande Anse 97217
Les Anses-d'Arlet (Martinique)
+596 (0)5 96 48 33 47
Open from 12h - 23h. CLOSED on Wednesday.
Mont St Michel is much visited and for very good reason, but visiting with three small children we had to find a new twist to add to its appeal. So we used the Disney-line: the excitement of catching glimpses of the mount as we approached as this was the very location of Mickey Mouse's dungeon from The Three Musketeers; the crowded streets the place to buy beignets like Tiana made in The Princess and the Frog. But the best find of all were the mussel and oyster bars which stretch along the coastal road along the edge of the Bay of Mont St Michel. Cheap, child-friendly and with fantastic views of Mont St Michel - our three devoured bowlfuls of mussels and oysters dug fresh from the sandy bay - without even a mention of what Sebastian from The Little Mermaid might make of it all!
Take the D155 from St Malo, then onto the D797 at Le Vivier-sur-Mer heading towards Mont St Michel.
Google map: bit.ly/ojp0gQ
A French friend recommended this village when I needed somewhere to overnight before sailing from Dieppe. I arrived in time for the night market and bought delicious local foods and bread to die for. In the morning I wandered the miles of beach; there was a yoga class beneath the Dover-style white cliffs, and in the sea oyster beds and people shrimp fishing, apparently oblivious to being fully dressed as they pushed their nets through chest deep water. Colonised by Russian artists in the late nineteenth century, there's a fantastic range of galleries wherever you turn. Much of the ancient architecture has survived fires, storms and WWII bombardment. La Veule is France's shortest river, with cress beds and flowers galore. I wish I'd given myself longer in this little gem.
Oysters may be bought directly from local harvesters at the end of the Quai Admis en Chef Thomas. Among the freshest oysters you could get! However, make sure you know how to open them ("huitres sauvages" in particular can be quite tricky). You can also be lazy and try one of the numerous restaurants. Don't forget to try the Kouign Amann (literally butter cake and not plum cake as translated in Amelie) at Grain de Vanille.
Grain de Vanille
12 Place Victoire, 35260 Cancale, France
+33 2 23 15 12 70
Google map: bit.ly/pws04O
It's a great little campsite close to a beach and about 20 minute cycle to the main village where great food was served all day from a variety of eateries.
You can hire a tippee to stay in and watch the beautiful sunsets from the beach just across the road.
The staff were super friendly (even if somewhat intrigued by my bad allo allo-esque accent) and you can't knock warm croissants from the small shop first thing in the morning.
This place and its surrounding areas were a joy to explore and felt very similar to the Isles of Scilly.
We had an excellent cycling holiday in Finistere, the western part of Brittany, last year. It’s easy to take your bikes on the overnight ferry from Plymouth and within minutes of arriving in Roscoff you can be eating breakfast in a seafront café before setting off along quiet country lanes through rolling farmland and tiny hamlets. The terrain is just right with enough change in gradient to make it interesting without being too strenuous, the roads are generally not too busy and there is plenty to explore along the way including ruined churches, standing stones and lighthouses as well as miles and miles of spectacular coastline. We stayed mainly in chambres d’hotes (the equivalent of B&Bs) which offer good value accommodation and we ate some wonderful meals, the most memorable of which was at La Corniche, a seafood restaurant right on the water’s edge in Brignogan-Plage. Our favourite stretches of coastline were the windswept Pointe de Penhir on the Crozon peninsula and the Côte Sauvage (the Wild Coast) further north where waves crashed on to the rocks below us and we visited the tiny chapel of St Samson.
Le Garo, 29890 Bignogan Plages
+33(0)2 98 85 81 99
Google map: bit.ly/pQULIq
This charming resort town in the Calvados region still retains its turn-of-the 20th Century charm filled with venerable hotels and the odd cafe that seems preserved in a 1950's time warp. My tip for a truly unique experience is to go to the beach early in the morning and watch the trotting horses being put through their paces on the sands at low tide. It's free and you can get a lot closer to the action than at the track - and it's something unique to Cabourg.
Google map: bit.ly/o6we0X
Cirali is a picture perfect place to holiday - with stunning scenery, scrumptious food to suit all tastes, the best water I've swum in the Med. Almost want to keep it to myself, but that would be selfish.
The sort of holiday to suit all sorts of people. Lots of activities, whether you want to snorkel off a yacht, visit the fire breathing mountain at night or wander the beachside ruin complex at Olimpos by day.
A great range of accomodation too - we stayed in three places - the family friendly Hotel Canada with welcome pool, the more romantic cabins of Arcadia with private hammocks for all in orange groves on the beach serving breakfast any time you want. All pensions seem to offer bikes free to guests so you can cycle around the very very quiet roads stopping off for a fresh pomegranate juice from a roadside stall or some baklava or cakes from the bakery.
Food is delicious wherever you eat - fish, kebabs, Turkish pizza, amazing flatbreads and mezze. Places range from a string of bars and restaurants on the beach, to some more sheltered ones with cushioned seating in the village. And everyone should eat cheaply and very well at Lemon Restaurant or in a slightly more upmarket fashion at Oldeander Restaurant which also has some lovely pension rooms.
All in all I couldn't imagine a better spot to kick back and relax this summer.
Çıralı is hidden away far from the road, and is blessed with five kilometres of unspoiled beach between the ruins of Olympos and the fire-breathing mountain side called Yanartas. Go in August (if you can stand the heat) and see loggerhead turtles hatch first thing in the morning on the beach. The small pansiyons will look after you; the Bellerophon Hotel, with its cabins tucked away among the orange and pomegranate trees, certainly did for us.
Akif Kosk, Çıralı, Antalya, Turkey
+90 242 8257336
Shun the condom-and-glass-laden shores of Ostia if you want to visit the beach for a day on your summer hols to Rome.
The beach and sea at Sperlonga are cleaner, prettier and quieter, and only take an hour(ish) to get to by train from Termini, Rome's main train station. The beach is also shallow for quite a long way out to sea so it's a nice paddling spot for children or people with short legs.
Take the Naples slow train, which is at 49 minutes past the hour every hour from 8am and costs 6.20 Euros. Get off at Fondi Sperlonga and then get the beach bus (1 Euro) to the seafront itself.
It's worth leaving the beach for a couple of hours and wandering up to the hilltop town for a drink or a spot of lunch and a gawk at the view.
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