Uig and Bernara are on the western side of the Isle of Lewis, served by a quiet single road, and among the most beautiful areas in the West of Scotland. On a day trip you can taste whisky at the new distillery Abhainn Dearg (phone ahead), go hill-walking, picnic on one of the many white sand beaches, and explore the reconstructed Iron Age house at Bostadh (unattended and very atmospheric). There's even a small museum celebrating the 'Lewis' Chessmen that were found here.
This gem of a resort has something for the young and not-so-young alike. Arriving by bus or train, saunter up to the West Pier and Whitby Sands for a dip in the sea, or take a boat trip round the harbour. A fish-and-chip lunch is a must - try the famous Magpie Cafe, a Whitby culinary landmark! Cross over the swing bridge to the old town and wander along the cobbled streets, taking in the Captain Cook Museum, until you eventually reach the 199 steps leading up to the clifftop St Mary's Church and awe-inspiring Whitby Abbey. 'Dracula' would never have been written otherwise!
The "sightseer flight" from Barra to Benbecula has to be one of the most fantastic island experiences. Take the local minibus from Castlebay to the airport, pay £35 and show your photo ID, and step out over the sand to the Twin Otter waiting on the beach.
Up in the air, and cruising smoothly north at 1,000-2,000ft, you pass over the "Whisky Galore" island of Eriskay, before gazing down in wonder at the fascinating landscapes of South Uist and Benbecula, with a thousand lochs criss-crossed with roads, tiny houses and ancient remains. The flight takes 20 minutes, and after a short stop you fly back again. The pilot turned round and asked us what route we would like to return by, so we chose the mountainous one. I'm afraid of flying, but I loved this, and landed back on the beach on magical Barra with a big grin on my face.
Flybe flights: www.flybe.com/ but it seems to be cheaper to buy locally - ask at the tourist office in Castlebay (+44 (0)1871 810336). Tourist information on Barra: www.scotland-inverness.co.uk/barra.htm
Google map: bit.ly/96Ihrk
I’ve been to 63 countries, but the Scillies are the place I have visited most often. They have drawn me back since I camped aged 16 at the Garrison Farm on St Mary’s, waking at dawn in a vine-draped greenhouse after a storm destroyed the tent. In contrast my most recent stay was at Star Castle, an Elizabethan fortress in the shape of a star - where you can sleep in a thick-walled guard room overlooking the harbour.
The Scillies are the farthest you can get from the UK, while travelling the shortest distance. Bird watching, walking, prehistoric cairns, silky, white-sand beaches and coves, any number of prodigious shipwrecks and famously exotic vegetation, they have it all - including trendy modern hotels and fine dining (if that’s what you want). More important: the turquoise sea all around acts as a soothing invitation to unwind, as you explore between the five inhabited and umpteen mini islands.
Even in August there is seclusion if you are prepared to walk away from the harbour landings. I went skinny dipping one August day on St Martins, with only birds and rabbits for company. The wonky circle of St Mary’s cliff path is a day’s leisurely stroll, and if you plan it properly it’s possible to fit in two, if not three, superlative cream teas en route. Then back to Star Castle for a five-course meal followed by an evening in the Dungeon Bar. Nothing can beat the atmosphere of this place. You won't get jetlag, you don’t need jabs, and you’re more likely to get bother from a ghost hanging around a megalith than from an undesirable lurking on a street corner. Fortunate Islands indeed.
For a pure escape hardly unchanged since the 50's. Taking the toll ferry from millionaires playground in Poole harbour, you are transported to the oasis of the nature reserve and hamlet of Studland, and the white beaches of Shell Bay. Drive on through the beautiful purbeck hills and arrive at Swanage. Ms Blyton was a regular visitor and after taking the steam train to Corfe or climbing up to the lighthouse at Durston only tea with ginger beer will do. Be prepared to never want to leave (or at least return again again.)
The perfect day out for the jaded Londoner: hop on the train at Victoria with your bike and in less than two hours emerge blinking into the clear blue skies of Birchington-on-Sea in Kent. Well sign posted is the Viking Trail cycle path. It is a lovely route that hugs the north Kent coast, so sea views and salty air all the way. Flat and wide it is perfect for families and younger cyclists, a cycle for pleasure this, rather than for working up a sweat. The trail goes all the way to Ramsgate, the highlight being the five beautiful bays of Broadstairs. This is a great place for a lunch stop – at the Broadstairs institution Posilipo you can feast on spaghetti and shellfish sitting on a terrace high above Viking Bay. If you've had a glass of rose too many you can always hop back on the train at Broadstairs. And dont forget your swimsuit...
A beautiful Art Deco lido to be found across the Cornish moors, on the tail of the country. It was reopened on the 25th of May and is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Sat among its whitewashed walls it’s easy to forget which country you are in and equally hard to care. With a poolside café that looks to St. Michaels Mount and the route of the passenger ferries bound for the Scilly isles. I lay at its reopening, eating bread and cheese and imagined I was on Tracey Island.
This public outdoor swimming pool complex is set below a raised promenade off Beach Road in Sea Point, Cape Town, South Africa. Situated between Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean it comprises an Olympic sized, filtered seawater pool, two splash pools and a diving pool.
Above and alongside the sea, the spray from breaking waves that occasionally land over the boundary railing reminded us of our location, at the southern end of the African continent.
The sound of seagulls overhead, the visual pleasure of seemingly limitless open ocean as you cool off on a hot Cape summer's day and the imposing yet restful backdrop of Table Mountain make this outdoor pool quite special.
The aromas from BBQs on the adjacent grassed area encourage locals and tourists from all walks of life and is the ideal spot to relax after a refreshing dip beneath blue skies.
Whatever your swimming level it is an affordable day out and costs adults around R9,50 while children pay R6,00. Die-hard swimmers meet in the winter months as it is open all year round from mid-April to mid-October (08:30 -17:00) and in the more popular summer season from mid-October to mid-April (07:00 -19:00) when swimming just prior to sunset and the onset of the evening precede a lazy stroll along the paved coastal path, ice-cream in hand.
Sea Point Pavilion, Cape Town
Address: Beach Road, Sea Point, Cape Town, South Africa
Phone: (+ 27) 021 434 3341
Google map: tinyurl.com/32momns
The first time you dip your toe in the water can be a daunting one, especially when the water is from the North Sea, however Coast to Coast Surf School have the uncanny ability to stoke the fire of enthusiasm as they introduce you to the world of surfing with open arms. As a beginner, I enrolled in their weekend course at Belhaven Beach just 30 miles outside Edinburgh which was great fun both in and out of the water. The team of instructors seemed to genuinely love teaching and instilled confidence in the most wary of pupils. Lessons aren't just for beginners. The school offers improver courses, yoga and surf on the beach as well as weekend and full week surf tours around Scotland. Kids are also catered for with holiday lessons and surf fun during the holidays. Hire of kit and surfboards are also very reasonable. Believe me, the wetsuits are the warmest that I have ever come across and I did not feel cold once.
The surf vibe is not felt purely on the beach as the school also owns the Coast Café in Dunbar which is located right at the train station. It is a small intimate café which sells delicious soups and home baking which are well worth waiting for – and you will wait – it appears nothing is rushed in the surfing world. However this is not a bad thing as there is plenty to browse at in this quaint fuel stop or indeed you can sit outside in the garden and have a few goes on the skate board ramp while your hunger builds. The café is also known to host BBQs and party evenings with local DJs and various forms of entertainment. Everyone is made to feel welcome – even the newbies drained after their first attempt at mastering the surf board.
If you are looking to find some surf culture in Scotland, I'd say that Coast to Coast Surf School and the Coast Café in Dunbar is a pretty good place to start.
Coast to Coast Surf School
Tel :07971 990 361
E-mail : email@example.com
Dunbar EH42 1JX
01368 864 596
Nearest Station - Dunbar. Cafe & Surf School Office located just beside Dunbar Station - free lifts to beach can be pre-arranged with the school.
Pueblo Ircosol is a great place to stay. We had a one bedroom air-conditioned apartment in a gated community with swimming pool and paddle tennis. The apartment was clean and modern and came with satellite TV.
We enjoyed the beautiful mountain views as we ate our breakfast each morning. After that we headed straight to the beach, which was only a 10-minute walk away. For lunch, we either went back to the apartment or ate at one of the local tapas bars. For dinner, we often bought food to cook at home.
This is the nearest surf school to Edinburgh, run by a nice bunch of local surfers. They taught me everything I know, mainly through the tours which run up to the north coast of Scotland and out to the islands where it's proper beautiful. I genuinely think these tours are the best way in Scotland to learn about "soul surfing".
They opened a cafe in Dunbar last year, next to the train station, where you can get a nice post-surf sandwich in the garden. Also got to give props to the Great Escape surf/clothing shop in North Berwick – the bloke there is sound as a pound.
Surfing in Scotland: not just for the foolhardy!
Last summer I went on holiday with my familiy in San Remo, a lovely little city in the North of Italy. We choose to stay at “Le Terrazze”, a holiday complex with comfortable studios or two-roomed apartments in the peace of a garden full of lemon trees and lots of other plants. The apartments are new and very well furnished with air conditioning, TV and Internet connection. They all have a little terrace with seeview and private parking. My family and I especially enjoyed the barbecue zone which is among the lemon trees. Also we appreciated that the complex isn't too big and not so close to the crowd of the city centre. It is very quite and relaxing. “Le Terrazze” is also very near to the most popular beach of Sanremo named “Tre Ponti” where you find rocks and sand and limpid water. My family and I have loved as well the new bike lane that goes from San Remo to Santo Stefano al Mare and where you can walk or run with the beautiful coast on your side.
A good beginners beach for surfing and body-boarding with a long tide range and gentle but good waves. Good long beach and deep-water - though mind the rocks at high tide. Good for teaching kids how to surf.
Google map: tinyurl.com/33jhqn9
A long, narrow stretch of beach on the remote island of Rameswaram. Nothing but fishing villages for miles. With the help of my trusty phrasebook, I helped the locals trawl in their nets and weigh their catch before hitching a ride 10km back down the beach on the roof of a fishing lorry.
On Pamban Island, off the coast of Tamil Nadu, India. Connected to mainland by the Pamban Bridge.
We stayed there last summer, lovely place filled with paintings made by the land lady, only few min walk from the beach. We had great time and would highly recomend it!
Jurja Novaka 6, 21450 Hvar, Croatia
Phone: (00 385) 21 741 772
I recommend taking a seat on the decking above the beach at the surf break Supertubes, where you can watch the surfers and dolphins share the waves and enjoy the sea together.
I went to Cannes in the French Riviera and that was wonderful! I rented a flat, 50m from the beach, at a budget price.
The owner is a lovely granny who rent for a month or more. That's really hard to find in the French Riviera.
We could go to the beach on foot and wash after at the flat, it even has a bath for the children. We had breakfast seeing the sea and we had dinner on the big balcony (weather is blamy at night in this area).
I really recommend it. It was a great holiday.
The flat: Avenue de Lérins, 06400 Cannes, France
+336 627 548 34
San Sebastian has fantastic beaches adjoining the city centre. It's a great city for food, not just at the Michelin starred restaurants. Cheaper restaurants offer fixed-price menus del dia, much cheaper at lunchtime than at night. Cafe Oquendo does an excellent three-course lunch, inc 1/2 bottle wine for €16pp. So fill up at a leisurely lunch, sleep it off on the beautiful Playa de Concho till 8 o'clock (Spanish style) then shower/change & hit the many excellent pintxos (tapas) bars in the adjoining old city (Parte Vieja).
The beaches of Brittany’s St. Malo are clean, chic and convenient. There are several options amongst the beaches, from the wide strand in front of the promenade to small, sheltered and almost secluded areas beneath the city walls.
Many are the haunts of the beautiful people who wouldn’t dip so much as a toe in the water, but the slowly shelving beach makes it safe swimming for all the family.
Clean beaches, easily accesible, without any urbanisation on a continous coastline from Sola on the Southwest coast of Norway. For Surfing, swimming, walking, photographig etc!
South from Stavanger by bicycle, bus or car. Pictures: www.visitnorway.com/uk/produkt/pid?=31478
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