One day, laying on the less than pleasant beach in Florida Keys, I began to think back to all the wonderful sun-and-sand destinations I’d had the privilege of visiting and was compelled to make a list. Hopefully, it will inspire or at least clarify things for my beloved readers:
First place is a tie between Aruba and Grand Bahamas-both are in the Caribbean sea, both have crystal clear blue water, fine white sand and many opportunities to get away from the crowds and immerse yourself in pure paradise.
2. Ibiza. Known largely as a party destination, Ibiza offers some of the beach beaches I’ve ever seen, not to mention the variety. Anything from a well-equipped city beach with loungers, restrooms, cafes and snacks to an unmarked northern shoreline, where scantily glad Europeans adorn the weathered sandstone cliffs. The quality of the water, temperature and the sheer beauty of the island will easily make one understand why one may never leave (which I wrote in detail here)
3. Greece- Skiathos. Granted, most Greek islands have fantastic beaches, but what makes Skiathos special is that for a small island, it boasts 21 beaches, all easily accessible by public transportation. And, if you choose the right ones, you may just be steps away from a local tavern serving authentic Greek meals for lunch of lamb, seafood and grilled vegetables-just don’t forget to ask for “house wine” poured straight from a barrel…opa! *tip: avoid visiting the islands after September, as the colder currents tend to bring swarms of jellyfish quite close to the shore.
4. Maui, Black Rock beach (in front of the Sheraton, West Maui). To say that Hawaii is phenomenal is one thing, but no other Hawaiian beach beats the one by the Sheraton in west Maui. Perfect slope, gorgeous blues of the water, steady waves that don’t feel like a struggle for a swimmer, yet provide plenty of entertainment for th e body boarders. Kids also enjoy snorkeling around the rock, watching the sunset fire torch ceremony (every night), not to mention-parking’s validated with a purchase of any drink/food item at the beach bar.
5. Daytona/Ormond Beach, FL. Fun in the sun, indeed! Gorgeous water temperatures for almost half a year, pleasant sand texture, and of course, those famous steady waves perfect for hours of body surfing. Combine this with regularly cheap stays, flight specials to Orlando and cheap car rental, and you have yourself a great family vacation.
6. Kauai, Kalapaki Beach (Lihue). Though not the best water quality, its location, year round warm temperatures and stunning views make up for it. Nearby restaurants and fast food options will never leave you hungry, and the local outfitters have everything imaginable for rent, from the latest craze of stand-up paddling to trying the authentic Hawaiian “dragon boat”-you’ll never be bored.
7. Polihale, Kauai. Idyllic 2-mile stretch of the most picturesque beach: white sands, waves crashing and not a soul in sight- all this is possible on Kauai. Best reachable by a 4×4 down a mud road, the views are spectacular and the sunsets are a must-see.
8. Hurghada, Egypt. Looking for a beach destination in November? Your options outside of the typical Carribean destinations might be limited, but Hurghada offers stunning blues, warm water temperatures, deserted beaches and off-season rates (an all-inclusive hotel will cost 35$/day if booked directly). Despite a few recorded shark attacks by Sharm-el-Sheikh, Hurghada beaches remain safe and a total absence of jellyfish make it a welcome choice.
9. Off of Naples, Italy. What could you say when you have perfectly warm water, sandy beaches, ancient castles nearby and toned and sprayed Italians everywhere? Perfection! Though it is more of a city beach, its accessibility via public transport, numerous eateries and kiosks nearby and wonderful scenery make it a great escape when visiting rome or naples. *tip: some beaches are paid and purchase of an umbrella is required, though if you bypass all those down to the very end, that’s where all the locals hang out. Enjoy, absorb the culture and some sunshine- totally safe for a single female traveler.
10.Big Island, geothermal pools. Though technically not a beach, this is so unique that we might as well include in the top 10. Geothermally fed water creates natural hot pools, recharged with warm water through the basalt fissures and cold water from the ocean waves spilling over. Completely mesmerizing and extremely relaxing,there’s nothing quite like enjoying these after you’ve hiked some of the Big Island trails.
The following destinations didn’t make the list, as I found to be either overrated, disappointing, or both:
Cabo San Lucas, MX: through picturesque indeed, the sand is very coarse and hurts your feet when walking on the beach, the drop-off is steep and creates huge waves and unfavourable conditions for a less confident swimmer. A constant array of “boat taxis” pollute the water and the smell of diesel is almost inescapable.
Croatia– though a beautiful country, its beaches are most gravel or concrete pads, tend to be small and overcrowded. Air temperatures start to cool off in mid-September, so the swimming season is actually shorter than one might think.
Florida Keys. Largely developed for fishing and boating, swimming takes a second seat on the Keys. Public beaches are few and can be difficult to find, un-maintained and usually don’t offer a whole lot. Beaches closer to Key West tend to be slightly more civilized, though in return, a lot more crowded. Considering the price of airfare, car rental and overpriced stays, this is a destination hardly worth visiting if swimming’s what you’re looking for.
There you have it, top 10! Did I miss anything, in your opinion? Let me know by commenting below!