|Paradise on Kefalonia - Myrtos Beach|
Picture-Perfect Beaches Not to Be MissedAhhh, here are some favourite idyllic holiday beaches with the perfect balance between that all-important unspoilt appeal, whilst still being perfectly comfortable for a day's (or even week's) indulgence...
Depending on what you're looking for and how far you want to travel, these are some stunning beaches to experience in likely (and a few slightly more unlikely) holiday destinations. I have concentrated my efforts on the best beaches for swimming and enjoying the sun - and taking fantastic photos if you're a photo freak of course.
In each section you will find some practical information, however please visit my destination pages for more information, or leave a comment - questions are very welcome.
Kefalonia - Petani Beach
An enormously long stretch of white smooth shingle in a protected bay is sheltered by mountains on the West side of the beautiful island of Kefalonia.
Crystal clear waters of the deepest, brightest azure blue and a gradual, shallow drop of the sea bed make this a great choice with children - as does the lack of sand! There's plenty of space on this beautiful and dramatic beach for lots of sun beds, leaving huge areas of unspoilt beach and lots of space for everyone. The cave at the far end of the beach makes an interesting spot for children. There are two great tavernas to choose from and the little taverna at the parking side of the beach serves fresh orange and other delights, allocating free shaded sun loungers to customers. The staff are very friendly as is to be expected on this happy island!
There is a fair amount of parking right by beside the beach and a very winding road down the hillsides to access it - arriving by car is the easiest. Lixouri is the nearest main town however the are a couple of hotels within walking distance of the beach.
Kefalonia - Myrtos Beach
A famous and overly-photographed beach on the beautiful and unspoilt island of Kefalonia. Though you may have seen this beach in many photos, nothing can prepare you for its beauty. As you arrive by car, winding down the steep hillside, the view opens up to this immense and glowing span of bright blue water. Much like Petani beach (above), Myrtos is a long stretch of soft pebble in a protected bay. It makes a very welcome alternative to messy, sandy beaches. The small pebbles are soft, white and extremely clean.
Myrtos beach has enough room for everyone to spread out. In the middle of the beach is an area of shaded sun loungers and a lively little cafe. It is set far back enough from the water not to interfere with the beautiful water's edge. The beach can get very hot as the pebbles reflect the sunlight intensely and there can be strong currents so stay aware of this.
Access to Myrtos beach is best by car or taxi.
Kefalonia - Sami Beach
Panoramic mountain views are an excellent draw to Sami beach, as is its convenient location in the lovely town of Sami and the proxmity of the Melissani Caves attraction nearby. (Beautiful caves with a sunlit hole in the top where the seawater is illuminated jewel-bright around midday).
Sami beach itself is a pretty and generally clean beach, however around the coast towards the Melissani caves are some excellent crystal-clear soft pebble coves for taking more of a private dip.
Kefalonia is easy to get to from the UK, there are direct flights with most travel agencies even if you don't do the all-inclusive thing - there are so many lovely restaurants and places to eat and drink on Kefalonia, it would be a shame to miss them out and stick to one resort...
Aruba - Palm Beach / Eagle Beach
This long and endless stretch of bright white sand gradually turns from a quiet, unspoilt paradise to a buzzing Carribbean resort as you journey from Eagle Beach to the centre of Palm beach. There really is a perfect patch of sand here for everyone. Shady clusters of palms, colourful restaurants, bright green iguanas, and crystal clear turquoise ocean are the typical draws of these brochure-perfect beaches.
Aruba is a fantastic island for pretty much guarranteed year-round sunshine as it lies just outside the hurricane belt. Relaxing here is not difficult - the Arubian way of life seems to demand it. There are a few great activities such as off-roading trips in the desert and a butterfly farm near Palm Beach, however pasttimes such as lying in the sun, snacking and drinking cocktails certainly prevail. Getting there is fairly easy, many flights from the UK change in Miami.
Maui, Hawaii - Big Beach
Crystal water and wide golden sands make a stunning aqua ocean paradise. This beauty is a real rural delight (no facilities at all). However the walking-distance proximity of the upmarket Wailea area and gorgeous shops and restaurants makes this a good option for a rural retreat not too far from civilisation. The waves here are spectacularly powerful and beaches in Hawaii in general are very different from the mill-pond seas of the Mediterranean due to these utterly surf-worthy waves.
Visit Big Beach to watch the locals enjoying the powerful waves on their surf boards and chill out on a typical Hawaiian paradise. There is a large area of trees providing shade and separating the beach from the road side and parking.
The waves here can be very strong, as can the current so be very careful with children. The sea gets deep fairly sharply also.
Maui, Hawaii - Napili Bay
This is a more protected and popular resort-orientated beach with clean golden sands and lots of amenities nearby. It a great choice with children as there is a large shallow area and the waves here are not quite so strong.Napili Bay is close to the biggest resort on Maui - Kaanapali - but a smaller and less showy option.
Maui is a tropical paradise with such an interesting natural history. The beaches are fantastic, especially for the awesome surf. Just never turn your back on the sea - those waves can literally be whipped up out of nowhere!
Getting to Maui is easy enough - most flights from the UK change in L.A. however you will normally have to change in Honolulu. On Maui a good place to stay is Khihei as you are near Big Beach, other lovely beaches, and the upmarket area of Wilea. There is good amount of tourist infrastructure, however not as much as the other less 'unspoilt' area of Kaanapali.
Corsica - Bussagli Beach
On Corsica's South Coast there are some stunning beaches, as there are in the North - there are so many options. However Bussagli on the West coast is a great pebble beach with lots of parking and boat/dingy rental. It is usually very quiet as there are so many more glitzy options on this beautiful island.
You can reach Corsica easily by air. If you want to enjoy parts of the mainland too it can be reached by overnight ferry or hydrafoil from Nice or Marseille in France, or by ferry from Italy. Corsica is a large island - don't underestimate distances and if you're only there for a few days stick to the region of the island you arrived at as journey times are long and there are more hairpin bends on the roads than crash barriers!
Tuscany - Isola D'Elba Beach Coves
Around the coast from Marciana Marina (around a ten minute walk East along the coastal road towards Procchio, or a five minute walk West along the beach and over the rocks) there are a series of beautiful little white rocky and pebbly coves with the clearest most aqua water, and if you're lucky you will find one all to yourself! Marciana Marina being nearby is a great advantage too as there are some excellent places to eat along the harbour front and some lovely individual little shops.
Isola d'Elba is easy to get to by ferry from Piombino in Italy. In summer it can be busy and full of cars so consider renting a bike or moped when you're there. A great 3 star hotel in Marciana Marina town is Hotel Primula. Rooms are clean, light and fresh. The seafront is just one street away. For stunning views of the island, rent bikes and cycle up the mountain to Marciana village and scream back down with the wind in your hair for a thrill.
Croatia - Vis Town Beaches
Vis island's main town of the same name has a number of great pebble and sand beaches nearby (within 15 minutes' walk from the town centre). The water is crystal clear and extremely calm. The water is generally shallow with a soft gradient and safe for children. Sun loungers and even kayaks are available on some beaches. Vis town is a great place to be based, especially for boat trips out to the islet of Bisevo to see the mysteriously and naturally lit 'blue cave'.
Vis is reached by ferry from Split. The journey takes around three hours and the ferry arrives in Vis town. In Croatia it is very common to rent a room from a private homeowner instead of staying in a hotel - most are ensuite and some are available on sites like booking.com. However hotels are also easy to come by.
French Riviera - Nice Beach
Of all the glitz and glamour of the South of France and the Cote d'Azur how can the best beach be chosen? It can't, but take a moment to appreciate the stretch of pebble beach so conveniently located just over the road from the extremely colourful and alluring labyrinthine streets of Nice's old town. The colour of the water here is divine - such true, bright turquoise and in such a stunning location too. How can the water be so clean when this beach is right at the heart of a sprawling city?
Nice is generally a cheap airport to fly to from the UK. It is also a short distance to transfer to the city. There are some beautiful hotels to choose from but they can be expensive. A great option for a reliable chain hotel is the Ibis styles right by the old town.
New Zealand - Ninety Mile BeachWide, long and not quite actually ninety miles (at all) but it is really long, and it has a brilliant air of seclusion about it. The water is so clean and blue, and the sand golden. The high sand dunes make excellent entertainment for sliding down on body boards, there are quality waves for surfing, and the beach also lies close to Cape Reinga - the iconic Northern tip of New Zealand.
Text and Images Copyright © Lise Griffiths, 2013
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