10 extra special beach holidays
Don't settle for any old beach in 2017
If we could be transported anywhere, right this second, we’d want to be dropped onto a beach. Sand? Check. Crystal-clear sea? Check. Dinosaur bones? Che… what? Yep, we won’t settle for any old beach, and neither should you. Here are 10 beach holidays where you can do a lot more than just read a book and chug piña coladas. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course…
Apart from being a prime slice of Indian Ocean beach, complete with sugary white sands and crystal-clear sea, the Kenyan town of Watamu is a nature-lover’s dream. The coral reefs are some of the best in East Africa for diving, while the bird life in the salt marshes and mangroves is well worth checking out. If you’ve got time, Tsavo National Park is doable in a day trip – if you’re lucky, you might see lions and elephants.
There’s no shortage of great city beaches on the planet – take Sydney, Cape Town, Barcelona and Rio de Janeiro for starters. But one of our favourites is the Portuguese capital, which balances brilliant nightlife and tons of culture with a beautiful stretch of coastline. You’ll need to get a quick bus or train out of the city for the very best beaches, but it’s worth it, trust us. Head to nearby Carcavelos for bustling (but friendly) crowds and good times, or go slightly further to quieter Praia do Guincho for some of the best waves in Europe
Soufriere, St Lucia
There aren’t too many views on the planet more spectacular than this – two picture-perfect, jungle-covered mountains (known as pitons) rising out of the sapphire blue Caribbean Sea. That’s the view that greets you from Soufrière in the southwest corner of St Lucia. Anyone can summit Gros Piton – the larger of the two – as long as they have the time and energy, while Petit Piton is for serious climbers only. We’ll see you on the beach with a rum punch, thanks.
Blue Lagoon, Malta
From reefs and wrecks to caves and colours, Malta has some of the best diving in Europe. Many dive trips set off from the north of the main island and the smaller island of Gozo, and the tiny island of Comino in between. That’s where you’ll find the Blue Lagoon – a sandy inlet with sparkling, still water that’s popular for a reason. Get there early or late to grab a spot to yourself…
Jurassic Coast, UK
We can’t promise sightings of live dinosaurs, sadly, but you’re guaranteed to see fossils on Dorset’s epic Jurassic Coast – from prehistoric bony fish to fragments of giant dinosaurs. The Etches Museum in Kimmeridge documents some extraordinary finds from the area’s rich clay formations – and, better still, it’s only a few miles from some of the most stunning beaches in the UK, including Lulworth Cove and Chesil Beach.
There’s a good chance you don’t know anything about the Peruvian beach town of Trujillo, but there are countless reasons why you should. For starters, its hippie vibe, friendly locals and colourful buildings make it a great place to hang out, Then there’s the brilliant surf, the coastal desert and mountains that surround it, and the ruined adobe city of Chan Chan, which 600 years ago was the biggest city in the Americas. The best beach is Huanchaco, home to surfing, ceviche and fishermen in reed boats.
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Your idea of a good day on the beach might involve lazing around doing absolutely nothing, but what if your other half needs more exercise than a greyhound puppy? Take them to the Parque Natural de las Dunas de Corralejo, on the northeast coast of the Canary Island of Fuerteventura. It’s a mecca for windsurfers and kitesurfers, and the surfing’s pretty good too. You’ll see plenty of cyclists, too, battling the fierce winds and otherworldly landscape.
Malaga/Sierra Nevada, Spain
Ok, so we’re cheating a bit with this one – you can’t exactly step out of your Speedos or bikini and straight onto the slopes – but it is possible to be hanging out in the beach city of Malaga one minute, and two hours later be in the ski resort of Sierra Nevada in little more than a couple of hours. If you don’t fancy Malaga, try Salobreña instead – it’s smaller, closer to Sierra Nevada and full of charm.
Like tropical islands? Have 99 tropical islands. The Langkawi archipelago is an impossibly pretty group of islands just off the coast of mainland Malaysia, the biggest of which (by some distance) is also called Langkawi Island. With a thick covering of rainforest throughout, it’s easy to get off the beach and into the jungle – book yourself onto a jungle trek and look out for loads of bird species, monkeys and staggering panoramic views
If you fancy a go at surfing but are worried it’s both too warm and too easy for you, first, you’re mad – second, there’s a solution. Norway’s Lofoten archipelago, which lies just inside in the Arctic Circle, is home to Unstad surf, which claims to be the most northerly surf school in the world. Once you’ve spent the day pounding your body in the Arctic waves, fall off your board and into the portable sauna or hot tub, which they’ll deliver to you right on the beach.