The most beatiful and relaxing beach on my year round trip back in 2004/2005. It will stick in my memory for a long time. White sand beaches, blue waters and great bars that spread onto the beach. In the evenings the town comes alive with street bars (amazing cocktails for nothing at all) and guys jumping around everywhere practicing capoeira. We stayed there for three weeks but could have easily stayed longer. Great little pousadas tucked away in the small town. HIGHLY reccommend a visit!
The nearest main town is Porto Seguro (where the Brazilians holiday) and from here you can get to Arraial d'Ajuda by a very short ferry ride. We caught a (long) coach trip up from Rio to Porto Seguro.
Google map: tinyurl.com/39fh7v8
For my money, it’s Dali in Yunnan Province in China. Yunnan is landlocked, but Dali is on the edge of the massive Erhai Lake and it therefore feels like a beach location. Activities on the lake include visiting the nearby island temple and surrounding fishing villages and watching the ancient practice of cormorant fishing. Inland there are plenty of pagodas and markets to visit, pony trekking in the Cangshan mountains or just watching the world go by in Dali’s cafes.
Dali City, Yunnan, China
Google map: tinyurl.com/2uvg37y
Backpackers have been going to Dahab on the Sinai for years and although the town has grown now it is still a great place to meet people and really chill out by the sea.
Diver's House is a really friendly pension that is in the southern part of the town which is far quieter than the northern end which is starting to get "touristy". You can get a double room, but many are triples or sleep four people. The acommodation is basic but you're not there to spend time in your room as you can just walk out onto their sun terrace or that of the Jasmine Restaurant (and Pension) which is opposite. Both have stunning views of the Gulf of Acqaba and the staff there will get your drinks and keep the tab going all day without hassling you to buy more or move on. The bedouine cushion seating there makes it very easy to stay all day!
If you do manage to prise yourself from this laid back cafe the diving instructors and guides with Diver's House are well qualified and friendly. You can though just rent a mask, snorkle and some fins cheaply from any of the stalls along the road and snorkle on the coral reef which runs directly infront of the cafe.
Mashraba Street - Dahab - South Sinai
+20 69 3640885
Google map: tinyurl.com/2wbo993
Mashraba St.- Dahab - South Sinai- Egypt
+20 69 3640 852
From Sharm El Sheik or Cairo there is an East Delta Bus Service that runs regularly during the day and overnight (Cairo to Dahab is 50LE per person).
Langkawi is probably better known for upmarket beach resorts, but there are cheaper options. Laid back Pantai Cenang is situated on a long sandy beach which never gets crowded. There is a good choice of places to eat, drink and stay, some right on the beach. The AB motel has clean rooms with a/c, fridge and TV. We stayed in the (most expensive) room at only £24 a night.
07000 Langkawi, Kedah Darul Aman, Malaysia, Pantai Cenang, Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia
Google map: tinyurl.com/2wpet3h
Discover somewhere exotic at Cambodia's ultimate beach hangout, Sihanoukville. It definitely ticks all the boxes as far as backpacker beach hangouts go. Serendipity Beach is bursting with budget accommodation - try Monkey Republic Bungalows as it's cheap, clean and comfortable and has a great bar with good-value meals.
Come nightfall you will notice the huge stretch of bars on the beach front where you can pick up a cheap feed at the fresh seafood barbeques. I'd recommend Dolphin Shack, as it's reliable and always buzzing with fellow backpackers. It's all day happy hour, beer's very cheap, so you can dance the night away under the stars right by the ocean.
Spend your days relaxing on the beach. Or if you are after something more, I'd recommend taking a trip out to the nearby islands where you will stumble upon unspoilt paradise, with squeaky pure white sand, lush palm tree's and sublime waters with endless snorkelling opportunities. You can stay in beach bungalows on Bamboo Island for an unforgettable experience.
A quiet and calm holiday retreat with fantastic seafood in local restaurants and supermarkets and local markets(La Tremblade). Worth the nine hour drive from Calais with weather that always breaks through even on cloudy days. Mostly clear blue skies but not oppressing heat due to constant gentle winds from the Atlantic. Near to Cognac, La Rochelle, Royen, and not that far from Bordeaux.
There's a variety of accommodation from campsites with mobile homes available for hire (air conditioning and all mod cons available), touring, camping and apartments. The estuary by Ronce Les Bains beach gives access to oyster and muscle farms when the tide goes out. Then there is 3ft of warm sea water to swim in when the tide comes in.
Around the corner and down the Atlantic coast you will find more exciting bathing and surfing. St Palais Sur Mare provides a larger seaside town and a challenging golf course. If you like a quiet, relaxing holiday with wine, seafood and cheese and bread you really couldn't ask for more. I have holidayed with children from three to 18 and they all love the experience.
It's definitely worth the extra three hours south of the Vendee.
Ronce Les Baines is near La Tremblade, 35 miles south of La Rochelle.
Google map: tinyurl.com/38k5hjz
One of the most chilled out and relaxing places we stayed in South America. From the cabana with an amazing ocean view for $10 a night we chilled out on our deck watching Atlantic breakers and sipping our local wine bought from the only shop in the village - cask for $2 a bottle. We helped the local fisherman pull his boat onto the beach and got the freshest fish as a thank you. Punta Diablo was the perfect antedote to the long days on the road.
Fabulous beach with great waves and an incredible campsite where you wake up with a full panorama of the sea Watch out if it's raining though as it always floods! A campervan probably a better bet if you're lucky enough to have one. Ok pub, but much nicer ones just along the coast in Littlehaven.
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.
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.
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 : firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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