Famous for it's surfing credentials, but also a great family beach, with brilliant walks via the South West Coast Path. Smallish and pebbly on high tide, but huge and two miles wide on low tide. Blue bar is great for food and drink deep into the night, or take a stroll up the sand (keep an eye on the tides) for a clotted cream infused snack at the National Trust caff on Chapel Porth. there's a great little guide here
Secreted snugly between Tarifa and Barbate on the southern edge of Cadiz Province is this unspoilt, hidden half-moon of fine white sand. Blink and you'll miss the turning off the N-340 that leads you to this (not so) surprisingly quiet location. Part of a national park, the area is as you find it, so don't expect any frills, only white, rolling dunes, and clear blue waters. The kite surfers tend to be further along at Los Caños de Meca, so turn off the mobile phone, get out that massive tome, lie down under a parasol and relax. Bliss.
Near 11380 Bolonia, Cádiz, Spain - off the E-5 (N-340) between Tarifa and Barbate
Google map: bit.ly/Y9a4Gv
Noja has two beautiful, long sandy beaches - one with a surf school, and with calmer seas.
Set in a picturesque town with fantastic restaurants, and lots to do nearby, it's a real hidden gem.
'Beaches aren't just for surfing' was a phrase I didn't believe before my first visit to Praia da Bordeira. The extensive sand dunes go on for miles around the beach, making them perfect for everything from romantic picnics, to all-day hikes. There are so many beautiful beaches in Portugal that it was so hard for me to choose one. But with it's fishing, relaxation, sports and beauty, I had to pick Praia da Bordeira. It has something for everyone but always seems to be spotlessly clean and never too busy. The accomodation in the town has everything from surf camps, to family apartments. I've also eaten the best seafood in a small cafe not far from the beach, which sources all the fish and shellfish from the beach. I can't wait to take my family there this year.
Carrapateira, Algarve Portugal.
Google map; bit.ly/XxKOKw
This small island just off Bali is nothing short of a dream. Small personal guesthouses (losmens) are the norm, reef surfing, amazing food and the most hospitable people you will find. It is definitely worth taking a break from the chaos of Kuta to sample this delight - and if you can stay at Putu's losman, the couple that run it are nothing short of awesome!!
You can book to go to Lemboggan from any of the local (cornerstall) travel agents.
Google map: bit.ly/V7icSb
I decided I wanted to visit Morocco and was going to go to Marrakech until I was told to try out some surfing from a friend. They recommended African Spirit as they had booked with them so I did too and I can't recommend them highly enough. The whole experience is something that I will never forget. I like to think by the end of the trip I was able to surf reasonably well! There is also a lot more to do other than surf but I would definitely recommend giving surfing a try, it is good fun!
Hossegor is a wonderful buzzing French seaside town with Capbreton just down the coast within cycling distance which has a stunning harbour full of extravagant yachts but it's a perfect place to watch the world go by with a cocktail. Perfect area to camp too.
I've spent a majority of my life traveling around Europe in a VW Campervan, and the only place I wish I had never left was this wonderful campsite south of Bordeaux. It's a prime location for surfers, foodies and hikers alike. The weather is beautiful throughout the summer - and you're allowed BBQs. And what's best, the beach is only a minute's walk, and thanks to the dunes, you can't hear a thing of the (rather tame) beach parties in the night. Fresh fish it served at the local restaurants at a very reasonable price for such good French food.
As a way to keep the winter blues away, I treated myself to a week of surfing at Surf Maroc in November and can't recommend it highly enough. Surfers of all levels are catered for and yoga was also available in the evening. I went for an all inclusive option for convenience and food was good and plentiful. If you want to go out instead, you just let the staff know on the day and you can specify your dietary requirements in advance. I stayed at Taghazout villas and although pretty simple, it had everything you might need, including a communal laptop with wifi, a projector to watch surf movies and a random selection of magazines and books left by guests. The people working there are very welcoming and friendly and there was a mixture of people travelling on their own, friends and couples. Breakfast and dinner is served at a long table on a terrace overlooking the sea which creates a relaxed and communal atmosphere. Really great activity and fitness holiday and I really want to go back again soon!
My favourite Christmas was spent in Nature's Valley on the Garden Route in South Africa – a wild and remote area tucked between the Tsitsikamma Mountains and the rolling blue Indian Ocean. In South Africa, Christmas is mainly celebrated on Christmas eve and it's a very laidback, low-key affair. I stayed in a homely, rustic backpackers called Wild Spirit, where dinner was eaten together in a log cabin overlooking the native forest below, followed by a few ice-cold Black Labels round the camp fire. On Christmas day, myself and some of the other guests hiked part of the famous Otter Trail in Tsitsikamma National Park, then drove to Jeffrey's Bay for the surf and parties. Of course, you can always add in the highest bungee in the world! It doesn't get much better than this.
Essaouira beach offers an amazing bohemian mix of experiences. Kick back and soak up the sun, or go surfing. Watch young Moroccan men play football and head-to-toe clad ladies supervise their children playing in the waves. Or ride by camel the length of the beach and gaze out at the ruined fort in the ocean that (allegedly) inspired Jimi Hendrix's 'Castles In The Sand'. When the sun gets too much head up into the (UNESCO heritage) town. Stop for fresh grilled fish by the harbour and then into the souks for mint tea and shopping, or walk the fortress ramparts and stop at the wood-carvers' workshops for aromatic Thuya wood items. Nowhere else on this planet offers such a unique beach experience.
Google map: bit.ly/sfYDBN
While studying at Spanish school in Guatemala, a friend and I spent a long weekend on a road trip to neighbouring El Salvador. We spent three glorious days at El Zonte, a small secluded beach inhabited only by locals with a passion for surf. We caught the first waves at sunrise everyday, leaving the ocean only to sip tropical fruit smoothies and eat freshly caught fish in beach front hammocks. Everyday, we returned to the ocean at sunset to watch the sun melt into the pacific as we tried again and again to catch the fierce waves. Even after spending months in Latin America, I never managed to find somewhere so tranquil and so perfect as El Zonte.
Google map: bit.ly/p917II
I have recently returned from a long weekend learning to surf on amazing beaches just outside Bilbao with the surf-school Wellentime. It’s run by Holger, a friendly German chap, and the instructors are all colourful locals with a passion for surfing and an infectious enthusiasm. Although one of them, Danny, is apparently one of Spain’s top surfers, he seemed genuinely overjoyed when I first managed to stand up (just about) on the board (and not immediately fall off). I found it so helpful to have that encouragement to motivate my aching limbs back into the waves for another go.
The setting was fantastic – the beach’s name roughly translates as the ‘wild beach’ and like a lot of the coastline there it is low-key and unspoiled.
The surf lessons were up until lunchtime, so in the afternoon you can hop on the metro to the centre of Bilbao. It’s a really interesting place to explore – a working city that’s less touristy than other parts of Spain with a really nice relaxed atmosphere where you can enjoy fabulous pintxos (the local, unique and utterly delicious form of tapas) in the early evening. The Guggenheim is amazing – you’ve really got to see it to appreciate the unique architecture. And the artworks inside are brilliant.
The Wellentime guys shuttle you from your accommodation to the beach and make the whole experience so enjoyable and hassle-free. They make sure it all goes smoothly but leave you do your own thing in your free time.
c/o Camping Gorliz
Uresarantse s/n 48630 Gorliz (Bilbao) Spain
+34 610 779 340
This hostel is like an oasis in a desert of busy surf hostels. It's tucked away from the main road and the vibe is relaxed and friendly. Facilities are fantastic with a huge common room with pool table and volleyball courts - great fun after surfing. It is possibly the best spot to watch the sunset I have ever been too. They also do free pick up from Peniche Bus Station
Padang Padang Surf Camp is a place that provides lessons and guiding for experienced surfers, mainly around areas of the Bukit peninsular in the south of Bali, but also in other parts of the island too.
The surf guides and instructors have been surfing the various places in Bali for years and years so you get to surf the best place each day.
The accommodation was half-board which included a proper breakfast (not just cereal and toast) and some amazing traditional Balinese inspired lunches.
The camp was very laid back yet extremely well-run so a perfect place to both relax and ensure that you get the most out of your time there.
The staff were all very friendly and competent, all the way from the instructors to the kitchen staff and I'll definitely be visiting again in the future.
The ultimate lodge/hostel/posh backpackers, in the ultimate year round surf capital for all levels from beginner to expert: sea view, free pool, free internet, sunset views, amazing vibe, indo board etc ... The local area is almost as amazing, from Obidos to Peniche to Berlenga island etc
Welcome Beach on the Cornish and north Devon border. Hidden away from the crowds it has some of the best body boarding in the area, with incredible crashing waves. The beach is hidden at high tide and looks like it's just rocks, but at low tide the sea goes back and there is acres of beautiful sand and the body boarding is second to now. There is a lovely waterfall to wash under once you've had enough of the sea salt!
An old fortified town on the beautiful estuary of the River Minho, the frontier between Portugal and Spain. It has two fabulous beaches, a small, sheltered one on the Minho and a huge expanse of windswept golden sand on the Atlantic. A few kilometres' drive further down the coast takes you to Praia de Afife, one of the best surfing beaches in Portugal. From Caminha a small car ferry takes you across the river to Spain where you can visit the ancient Celtic settlement on Mount Tecla.
North west Portugal, on the estuary of the River Minho.
Google map: bit.ly/gTUA4s
There are really only three things to do in Carrapateira besides soaking up the beautiful weather and stunning surroundings. A clear first choice has to be the surf. Right in the centre of town is a wonderful little surfboard rental that is run by a lovely young man called Alex. He speaks perfect English and if he likes you enough he'll offer to take you to the local break. When I was there, I spent nearly every day with Alex and his part-timer Josh. He took us all over the coast to these tiny little surf spots with no one else for miles and miles. The surf was perfect and so was the setting. It was every surfer's dream.
Obviously, after a long day of surfing a good meal is essential. Luckily, Carrapateira serves the best fresh foods than anywhere else I've been before. Although there are very few places to eat, each one is different to the other. In the centre of town sits a very rustic looking place run by a happy old chap who ensures that you pick out the fish or meat that you want. Everything is fresh but don't ask for olives as 9/10 he'll give you chopped carrots in a fancy dressing. About a ten minute walk down toward the beach is another restaurant, which also serves fantastic fresh fish and has a great selection of wine. If the waiter likes you there, you're guaranteed a handful of free shots and a friend for life.
Throughout my stay in Carrapetiera, I didn't see one mean face. Most of the locals sit out in the sun all day relaxing - if they're not at the beach. Very few tourists can find Carrapateira so it truly is a place for surfers.
When in Munich don’t miss the river surfing at the English Garden (entrance by the Haus der Kunst).
Despite being many hundreds of kilometres from the nearest ocean, Munich has a reputation as a surfing hotspot. It is highly entertaining to watch the local surfers and take great photos of them riding the artificial waves. When you have had enough take a stroll in the English Garden and stop at the Chinese Tower beer garden for a bite to eat and a lovely local beer. Bliss.
Eisbach (artificial river) at the Haus der Kunst, on the edge of the English Garden, this is the main wave.
Google map: bit.ly/gBuaU6
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com