River no. 2 beach, Sierra Leone.
Some 16km out of Freetown’s dust and noise is a piece of unexpected paradise. River no 2 beach, the film location for the 70s Bounty ad, is a tranquil bay mostly frequented by NGO workers on their days off. Along the sandy bay are perfectly positioned beach chairs, tables and parasols facing the Atlantic, where the occasional passing canoe catches your eye. With temperatures at around 29 degrees, December and January are ideal months to go. Don’t expect any frills, the only facilities are a latrine in a shed. But the piece de resistance has to be the hut in the trees where they’ll cook your food – or better still, serve up specialities from their menu including huge prawn kebabs on spicy couscous. You won’t be hassled by the beach sellers offering their ornaments and jewellery but do buy one of their deliciously fresh coconuts to finish off your lunch.
16km outside of the capital, Freetown. Drive there (4X4 recommended) or local taxi.
Google map: bit.ly/uBoicH
Recommended for anyone looking for a flavour of the older Boracay before it developed into a more tourist-y focused Asian resort. Situated just to the back of Station 3, Melinda's is a selection of authentic Filipino nipa cottages set in a delightful tropical garden. Each cottage has its own verandah and hammock where you can relax after a hard day sipping the San Miguel beers on the famous White Beach. Run by the very hospitable German, Horst - one of the original Boracay adventurers of the 1980s - this is an ideal spot to find a little peace in an increasingly busy tourist environment. Very reasonable prices, too.
Cafe and bar with a stupendous view of the beach. Great tapas, hearty lunches and snacks, comprehensive wine list.
Five of us ate for £77 including three bottles of wine.
Though Virginia Woolf set her famous novel in the Hebrides it was inspired by childhood holidays at St Ives Bay in Cornwall
Pure white sand, hidden rock pools, a wooden cafe serving hot chocolate, and that view to the lighthouse - a timeless stream of consciousness
West of Redruth and the A£) take the road to Hayle, just before take the coast road to the village of Gwithians, signs to Godrevy and the National Trust a mile before the village.
Google map: bit.ly/o8kOqh
The ruin of Top Withens farmhouse is the perfect place to experience the fictional world that the Brontes created in their novels. Purported to be the location that Emily had in mind when she wrote Wuthering Heights, the farmhouse is reached by a well signposted walk across the moors from Howarth. Far removed from the touristy tea shops in the village, the isolation of this windswept ruin gives you a true sense of what it must have been like in the world of Cathy Earnshaw or Jane Eyre. The views are wonderful, but even on a bright summer's day, the loneliness and solitude of this moorland are an almost tangible presence, and you feel that the howling winds and harsh frosts of winter are never far away.
Carloforte is a former Genoese enclave on the tiny, remote island of San Pietro, off the main island of Sardinia, surrounded by untouched nature and blue sea. Spend the day on a beach of fine sand at 'La Bobba', swimming in crystalline water. Join one of the small boat-tours of the island, or even better hire your own and go diving. In the evening, smarten up for dinner at 'Al Tonno di Corsa', where the speciality is tuna caught with traditional methods. As an appetizer or late-night snack, eat a simple and delicious 'farinata' a Genoese chickpea flat bread sold by the slice from the pizzeria on Corso Tagliafico, the main, palm-lined avenue (by the tourist office/'Pro Loco') and eaten while promenading. The old town is beautiful, constructed on few hills and made up of small lanes winding up steps in between pastel-coloured houses. And the best is getting there! With few tourists around you'll discover a hidden treasure not even many Sardinians go to.
Fly to Cagliari with BA or easyjet, then hire a car or catch a bus to Calasetta, on the neighbouring island of Sant'Antioco (connected to the mainland by a bridge and also worth exploring) then a ferry to Carloforte.
www.sardegnaturismo.it/en/ (select Carbonia-Iglesias province, then Carloforte for a variety of information)
Via Marconi, 47
09014 Carloforte, Cagliari, Sardegna
Google map: bit.ly/p2Ixao
Renting a car is a must for exploring the beautiful rugged western Crete - all doable on day trips from a charming Venetian town of Chania. Our favourite outings were Samaria Gorge, Gramvousa and Elafonisi. Samaria Gorge for a change of scenery and sightings of wild goat Kri Kri; relax to follow after the day hike in the laid back coastal village of Agia Roumeli. Explore the hills above the Balos beach for wonderful pre-sunset views of Gramvousa Peninsula. Drive to Elafonisi via the Agia Sofia cave; enjoy paradise settings of Elafonisi with its warm sands and shallow, blue/green hued waters; then back via the spectacular NW coastal drive. Late summer should be a perfect time to visit - the crowds are gone (not that it’s ever too busy) and the weather is good well into early autumn.
We stayed at Frida for easy access to everything.
A long journey to get there so give yourself five days at least! Fly in to Bocas del Toro, stock up on cocktail supplies then grab a cab along the white sand road through the rainforest to Bluff Beach Retreat - 20 minutes away. The beach is pristine, long, soft, gold and deserted. All yours. All day. Or hire a boat for away day coral dives, dolphin spotting, island hopping and surfing. Then back to the retreat, a v friendly shared kitchen, relaxation and a dip in the pool.
Beautiful white sandy beaches alongside the perfectly clean, clear and warm waters of the River Plate estuary between Argentina and Uruguay makes you feel like you’re on a tropical island, not an hour northeast of Montevideo. Piriápolis with its elegant old hotel and beach front promenade surrounded by small mountains is reminiscent of a Mediterranean beach town. Fantastic seafood to be devoured alongside the beach offers a perfect spot to watch the sun go down. We feasted on gigantic cones and perfectly sculptured ladles of the creamiest ice-cream you can imagine (Heladeria El Faro just across the road from the beach a firm favourite!). Family friendly too with warm shallow waters lapping onto beautiful sandy beaches creating lagoons to play in it has something for everyone.
Great transport links including the ferry/bus service from Buenos Aires will take you door to door in a few hours.
Located on the Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific coast in Costa Rica. I spent a whole month on these two beaches during a gap year before university. Both are very laid back in their own way and unspoiled. Curu as a wildlife reserve is untouched and really basic. I was there for a conservation project and slept in hammocks on the beach. Montezuma when I went ten years ago was a bit of a hippy resort with plenty of cheap accommodation a long sandy beach and the biggest waves I'd seen.
If you're looking for paradise, this is as close as you'll ever get. Unspoiled, uninhabited islands where you can camp under the stars, snorkel in pristine waters and marvel at what a beautiful world we live in.
They are two beautiful, deserted beaches in the east of the island. Although the beaches are close to the island's main town, they are only accessible by foot on a signposted path, which starts at the eastern end of Abraao beach. The path, which is steep at times, takes you through pristine jungle and past one of the island's highest points from where the views are excellent. A good alternative to Lopes Mendes, the island's most well-known beach (which is accessible on foot from Pouso). It is possible to catch a boat back from Pouso beach to Abraao village.
Paraty is a couple hours drive south of Rio de Janeiro. A hidden gem in every sense of the meaning. The beach is quite difficult to find and includes a drive (I did it in a bus) up a mountain, then back down the other side. On the way, you do wonder if it's worth all this palava but once you finally witness the beach, the sea, the backdrop of the mountains and the surrounding coast, you know you've found something very special. Perhaps the most beautiful set of beaches I've ever seen. Just don't forget your suncream - the sun is perilously strong in this corner of the world.
A crescent of crushed white pebbles, the crystal clear water of Lake Pirihueico and a couple of snow-capped Andean volcanoes looming overhead. A simple, leaning wooden shack with a corrugated iron roof was the restaurant/shop. I bought a beer and a sandwich, slapped on the factor 30 and unfurled my towel while waiting for my bus to Argentina. The elderly Maipuche woman who ran the place provided entertainment when she decided to give her cat its weekly wash in the lake.
At the eastern end of Lake Pirihueico in the south of Chile's lake district. A breathtaking 90-minute ferry ride from the opposite end of the lake is part of the little-used cross-border route to San Martin de los Andes in Argentina.
Google map: bit.ly/pGl09h
While Santa Fe is chilled and has an OK beach, it's the boat rides to the islands that you come here for. Jump on a boat and head to the islands where you can eat fresh oysters from a man just walking round with a bucket of them and some limes, stroke the huge lizards and then pop back on the boat for some snorkelling in some beautiful, marine life abundant coral reefs - perfection.
Eight years ago when we went it was still relatively unknown and quiet - pure bliss.
Parque Nacional Mochima
Google map: bit.ly/rnZLpb
It's a little deceptive, as there are no yachts and no club. There is however a lovely big shaded grassy area to swing a hammock or pitch a tent (as we did). There are also showers and toilets - bring a torch though. The great thing about the yacht club is it's probably the cheapest place in town to stay. The caretaker will charge a couple of dollars and he even looked after our bags. The beach and restaurants are just a short stroll. For the budget conscious this place can't be beaten. It's the perfect base from which to chill out or to return to after the rigors of a few days on the trails in Corcovado NP.
Corner of Aeropuerto Este and Parrot Acces. From the Boat Pier turn left walk 100m, the junction is in front of you, Yacht Club marked by a small house.
+506 2735 5051
Google map: bit.ly/pp7l6R
To anyone lucky enough to be able to go to Brazil during the World Cup in 2014, watching the footy on Copacabana beach is a must. I was there during the final of the last World Cup in 2010, and it was probably one of the best days of my whole six month travelling experience! They set up huge screens on the beach from midday, with live samba music, dancers and an abundance of beer and of course, Speedos. Even watching the final between Holland and Spain, the atmosphere was as excited as if it was a South American final. I can't even begin to imagine how it would have been if that was the case - it was truly like a mini Carnival. And my top tip, if you're feeling a little worse for wear the morning after the festivities, grab yourself an Acai berry smoothie from one of the kiosks near the beach, one sip and you'll feel completely revitalised!
Google map: bit.ly/rcHlgh
Boipeba is what you would expect Morro de Sao Paulo to have been like before it became the party central of the south Bahia! If you are looking to get away from it all for some rest and relaxation, pristine and serene coconut lined beaches and endless balmy days then the tiny island of Boipeba needs to be marked as a ‘must do’ on your map (if you sneeze, you will miss it!) With no noise apart from the sound of the occasional purr of a speedboat engine and the chirping of birds in the surrounding dense rainforests it is certainly a place to kick back and do absolutely nothing. Depending on how you get there, bus and boat or even plane from Salvador, you will not regret it. There are no ATM’s on the island and only a couple of very small stores for basic requirements, however, there is a small scattering of restaurants and obviously countless coconuts!
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