Top 20 beach holidays 16 janvier 2007Posted by Acturca in France, South East Europe / Europe du Sud-Est, Turkey / Turquie, USA / Etats-Unis.
Tags: France, Turkey / Turquie
Sunday Times (England), January 14, 2007, Sunday, Pg. 6
Whether you want surf, sunbathing or scenery, Mark Hodson has found your perfect stretch of sand
Close your eyes and think of your best ever summer holiday.
What do you see? We’d bet our last bottle of Fanta there’s a beach in there somewhere. Maybe a bucket and spade, or a freshly waxed surfboard, perhaps a couple of sun beds and a bottle of nicely chilled rose.
Whatever your idea of the perfect beach, you’ll find it here. We’ve scoured the coastlines of Europe and the UK to find 20 of the best beach holidays. So what on earth are you waiting for?
The water’s gorgeous. Last one in’s a sissy!
* Unless stated, all prices are per person for a week in May/August, including flights from a London airport. For regional departure options, contact the tour operator
1 Tropea, Calabria
Like a fractured metatarsal on the foot of Italy, the Tropea promontory juts out into the turquoise Tyrrhenian Sea, its superb white-sand beaches shielded by high cliffs. The town of Tropea pulls off a rare trick by managing to be both fashionable and unspoilt, a maze of steep narrow streets, Renaissance churches and yellow-stone palazzi.
The pick of the hotels is Porto Pirgos, a converted villa with beamed ceilings, a colonnaded terrace and a private beach. There are just 18 rooms, and it has two pools, a tennis court and a bowling green. The price is £ 861/£ 1,134, half-board, excluding flights and car hire, with Real Holidays (020 7359 3938, www.realholidays.co.uk). Ryanair (0871 246 0000, www. ryanair.com) flies from Stansted to Lamezia, 38 miles away.
2 Benirras, Ibiza
Benirras, in the north of Ibiza, is about as far as you can get from the fevered fleshpots of San Antonio. Here, at the end of a long and winding mountain road, lies a perfect slice of sand, bookmarked by cliffs and overlooking a deep, calm bay.
In the 1960s, Benirras became infamous as the scene of drug-fuelled orgies. Today, it attracts a stylish mix of young Spaniards, Italians and Swedes, though the hippie vibe remains; each day, the mellow sunset is hailed by a chorus of bongo-players.
Benirras has been protected from hotel developers, but there are several upmarket villas nearby, including one owned by a DJ, which has six bedrooms, a private pool, a music room and a sundeck.
It costs £ 1,813/£ 3,860 per week, excluding flights, with Holiday-Rentals.co.uk (www.
holiday-rentals.co.uk/67780). Airlines flying to Ibiza include EasyJet (www.easyjet.com), Jet2 (0871 226 1737, www. jet2.com) and Monarch Scheduled (0870 040 5040, www.flymonarch.com).
3 Ile de Re France
A holiday on the Ile de Re, a narrow, sun-bleached island connected to the west coast of France by a long road bridge, feels like a return to a less hurried, more innocent age. It’s an island of sand dunes and sunflowers, pine forests and poppy fields, vineyards and fishing villages, all connected by 60 miles of cycle paths.
Just about everyone on the island gets around by bike, with smaller children pulled along in two-wheeled trailers. After long days paddling in the sea and building sandcastles, you can pedal to one of many friendly harbourside cafes and scoff platefuls of fresh oysters and mussels.
Do as the French do and rent a house. In the village of La Flotte, a three-bedroom cottage for up to six people costs a total of £ 795/£ 1,582, including car-ferry crossings, with VFB Holidays (01452 716 831, www.vfbholidays.co.uk).
4 Cirali, Turkey
Far from the package- holiday hordes, Turkey has dozens of pristine beaches, among the finest of which is Cirali, a long stretch of fine white sand at the mouth of a towering canyon. The beach, an easy walk from the ruined city of Olympos, is a protected nesting ground for loggerhead turtles. After dark, lights on the shore are extinguished so as not to confuse the hatching babies. On a moonless night, the view of the Milky Way is phenomenal.
You’ll find no banana boats or disco bars at Cirali, just a perfect two-mile beach lapped by clear blue water, and walking trails that will take you into the drama of the surrounding coastal mountains. The best place to stay is the Bellerofon Hotel, which has five wooden chalets built amid fruit trees, and a shaded patio where breakfast and dinner are served. The price is £ 690/£ 739, half-board, excluding flights, with Responsible Travel (01273 600030, www.responsibletravel.com). For flights to Antalya, try Avro (0870 066 1464, www. avro.co.uk) or Charter Flights (0845 045 0153, www. charterflights.co.uk).
Just a few minutes’ walk from the beach, the 11-room Aida Hotel offers more conventional accommodation: the price is £ 619/£ 699, B&B (children £ 529), with Travel Counsellors (0800 195 8852, www.travelcounsellors.co.uk).
5 Chia, Sardinia
As you drive west from Cagliari, the beaches just get better and better. Cruise past the famous Forte Village resort (nice, but the sand is not world-class) and follow the signposts to Chia, where you’ll find several stretches of soft sand, with pine trees, rolling dunes and some of the clearest seas in the Mediterranean.
The best place to stay is the Chia Laguna, a four-star resort hotel that is geared to families. It’s not right on the beach -the coastline has been protected from developers -but guests can get there in five minutes on a miniature train. It offers supervised clubs for children aged four months and up, as well as tennis, watersports and three swimming pools. A week, half-board, for a family of four costs £ 4,785/£ 5,805, including British Airways flights, with Scott Dunn (020 8682 5000, www.scottdunn.com). Childcare is extra.
6 Mawgan Porth, Cornwall
There are better-known and busier beaches in Cornwall, but few can match the raw beauty of Mawgan Porth, on the north coast near Newquay. Shielded on both sides by cliffs, it has acres of soft white sand, rock pools, caves and magical sunsets.
The surf is ideal for beginners, and there is a school on the beach (King Surf: 01637 860091, www.kingsurf.co.uk).
There are several places to stay, including Bre-Pen Farm (01637 860420, www. cornwall-online.co.uk/bre-pen), where prices start at £ 25pp, B&B, and the four-star Bedruthan Steps Hotel (01637 860555, www.bedruthan.com), which last year won six awards for sustainable tourism. A family room for two adults and two children starts at £ 170 per night in May, B&B, or £ 250 in August.
7 Navarino Bay, Peloponnese
Although best known to Greek schoolchildren as the site of a 19th-century maritime victory against the Turks, Navarino Bay, in the western Peloponnese, has another claim to fame: its beaches are among the best in all Greece.
Head first to Yialova, a sleepy village with a handful of waterfront tavernas. From there, rent a boat or take the dirt road around the bay’s northern perimeter to the golden sands of Divari, and on around a headland to the Bay of Voidhokilia, a tiny cove shaped like the Greek letter omega.
Voidhokilia is sublime, with calm emerald water and soft dunes that back onto a freshwater lagoon, a protected nature reserve. There are no bars or cafes on the beach, and no vehicles are allowed -for fear that they might disturb the endangered African chameleons.
Stay near Yialova at Yiannis and Inge’s Estate, where a three-bedroom villa with private pool costs £ 448/£ 651, based on six sharing and including car hire, through Inntravel (01653 617906, www.inntravel.co.uk).
8 Eilean Shona, Scotland
Hell is other people, said Jean-Paul Sartre, who was not known to be a fan of crowded beaches. But even the grouchy French existentialist might have liked Eilean Shona, a private island off the west coast of Scotland.
Owned by Richard Branson’s sister Vanessa and her husband, Robert Devereux, the gorgeous island is your own personal hideaway, where you can explore white-sand beaches, build bonfires from driftwood or go canoeing among seals. It is dominated by a historic house that sleeps up to 11 adults and eight children, and is available to rent with a full complement of staff from £ 7,000 per week, full-board, including boat transfers. For details, call 01967 431249 or visit www. eileanshona.com.
9 Sainte Maxime, Cote d’Azur
Summer visitors to the Cote d’Azur are frequently disappointed. Promised glitz and glam, they are presented with endless traffic jams and hordes of gawping day-trippers. St Tropez, for all its money and fabulously chic history, seems particularly overrated.
A better way to see the coast is to stay across the bay at Ste Maxime, in Le Beauvallon, a grand hotel built in the belle-epoque style of the early 20th century. It is said to be the place where F Scott Fitzgerald was inspired to write Tender Is the Night, his study of wealthy lives unravelling on the Riviera.
The hotel, which was recently revamped, sits in 15 acres of lawned grounds and has a beach club, a private cinema and a glamorous pool deck. A speedboat will whisk you to St Tropez harbour or Pampelonne beach in less than 10 minutes. Most important, it will whisk you back again. Prices start at £ 1,005/£ 1,325, B&B, including car hire, with Abercrombie & Kent (0845 070 0612, www. abercrombiekent.co.uk).
10 San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily
Few British tourists make it as far as San Vito Lo Capo, in the northwest corner of Sicily. Although it has one of the island’s finest beaches -a scimitar of white sand, framed by high cliffs -most visitors are in-the-know Italian families. The town itself is modest, a single strip of bars and trattorias, but there is plenty to see, including the Zingaro Nature Reserve, which begins at the end of the beach. A network of walking trails leads you to deserted coves where buzzards and eagles circle overhead.
The best place to stay is the small, stylish Hotel Ghibli, a three-minute walk from the beach. Its restaurant, popular with locals, serves Arab-influenced specialities such as fish couscous (the town hosts an annual couscous festival in September). Prices start at £ 749/£ 1,038, B&B, including car hire, with Simpson Travel (0845 811 6504, www. simpsontravel.com).
11 Sesimbra, Portugal
For most Brits on holiday, Portugal means the Algarve. But the smart folks of Lisbon wouldn’t be seen dead mixing with the tattoos-and-lager brigade.
Instead, they head to Sesimbra, an atmospheric fishing port an hour’s drive from the capital. Although not undeveloped, Sesimbra is authentic, its long beachfront lined with cafes and restaurants where sardines sizzle on charcoal grills. The south-facing shoreline is safe for swimming, and there is an old harbour where fish is sold at daily auctions. The family home of the Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, is nearby.
The best place to stay -if you aren’t mates with Jose, or don’t know any wealthy Lisbonites with a second home here -is the Sana Sesimbra Park, a four-star hotel a few steps from the beach. A week in a sea-view room costs £ 286/£ 372, B&B, including a 5% online-booking discount, but not flights, with Hotel Connect (0845 230 8888, www.hotelconnect.co.uk). Fly to Lisbon with BA (0870 850 9850, www.ba.com), TAP Portugal (0845 601 0932, www.flytap.com) or EasyJet (www.easyjet.com).
12 Oludeniz, Turkey
What happens to a beach that is so photogenic, it appears in hundreds of brochures and on thousands of postcards? Well, it gets crowded, of course. So, should you abandon it entirely to the holidaying hordes?
Not necessarily. Oludeniz, on the Mediterranean coast, is simply too good to ignore. And now there’s a way to enjoy it without getting caught up in the crowds. A new boutique hotel, the Oyster Residence Beyaz Yunuz, opens in May this year on a clifftop at the quieter end of the bay. A private staircase will lead down to the beach, and the dining terraces will offer superb views of a setting with true drama.
Seven large suites, one with a pool, will have floor-to-ceiling windows and large sea-facing terraces with hot tubs. One afternoon a week, guests can go to the hotel’s private beach club on the island of Kizil Ada, where they will have dinner.
A week starts at £ 700/£ 950, half-board, with Exclusive Escapes (020 8605 3500, www.exclusiveescapes.co.uk).
13 Baska Voda, Croatia
The southern Dalmatian coast is dotted with delightful shingle and pebble strands that look out at the limpid Adriatic Sea. But despite the intense competition in this area, the Blue Flag Baska Voda beach – which sits in the lee of the pink-hued Biokovo mountains -is one of the undoubted hot spots. The Krka National Park and the islands of Hvar -with its cool harbourside bars and superb architecture -and Brac are all within easy reach.
The best place to stay is the four-star Aparthotel Milenij, just a few yards from the beach and a five-minute walk from the old fishing village of Baska Voda itself. A self-catering week starts at £ 269/£ 339 with Holiday Options (0870 420 8372, www.holidayoptions.co.uk).
14 Ramla Bay, Gozo
If you’re ever on the island of Gozo and are stuck for something to do, you might be tempted to hike up to Calypso’s Cave, near the town of Xaghra. According to local tradition this was Ogygia, where the nymph in Homer’s Odyssey holed up. True or not, the most memorable part of the trip is not the cave itself, but the view down from the top. Several hundred feet below lies Ramla Bay, where the sea is a deep iridescent blue and the sand a distinctive fiery orange. Behind the beach are swathes of dunes and mature tamarisk trees. Truth be told, you might even wish you’d skipped the cave altogether and gone directly to the beach.
There are several good places to stay in and around Xaghra, including the simple, family-run Cornucopia Hotel, which sits on a ridge overlooking Ramla Bay. Prices start at £ 318/£ 447, B&B, with Chevron Air Holidays (0870 075 7506, www.chevron.co.uk).
15 Puerto Soller, Mallorca
Puerto Soller is one of Mallorca’s prettiest and most popular beach resorts. Fringed by forested mountains, it has a sheltered, child-friendly beach, some excellent seafood restaurants and a toytown tram that runs into the neighbouring town of Soller. What it didn’t have until recently was an A-list hotel.
To the rescue have come a Swedish couple, Mikael and Johanna Landstrom, the owners of the successful Portixol Hotel near Palma. They have bought the run-down, 1950s-built Esplendido on the harbourfront at Puerto Soller and given it a stylish 21st-century makeover.
Book with i-escape (020 7652 4625, www.i-escape.com) and you’ll pay £ 93 for a double room, B&B (under-13s £ 18; babies free). Airlines flying to Palma include EasyJet (www.easyjet. com) and BMI Baby (0871 224 0224, www.bmibaby.co.uk).
16 Pentrez Plage, Brittany
If it’s rock pools, foaming surf and acres of white sand you ache for, then point yourself towards Brittany. One of the prize spots is Pentrez Plage, on the huge, sweeping Baie de Douarnenez -the kind of beach where you can kick footballs, hunt for crabs and fly kites. Backed by high cliffs pockmarked with caves, Pentrez has safe shallows for tots, as well as high-adrenaline sports such as sand-yachting and speed-sailing.
This summer sees the opening of a new holiday village, Les Terrasses de Pentrez Plage, connected by footpath to the beach 200 yards away, and made up of Breton-style cottages, a heated covered pool and children’s play area. It is ideal for young families on a budget, and a self-catering week in a villa for four costs a total of £ 304 in June, or £ 596 in August, with Wake Up in France (01484 680855, www.wakeupinfrance.co.uk). Brittany Ferries (www.brittanyferries.co.uk) sails from Plymouth to Roscoff, 50 miles from Pentrez Plage, with returns from £ 258 for a car and a family of four (with cabin).
17 Punta Sabbioni, Venice
A long, sandy beach with golden dunes, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, mini-golf, pedalos and lolly shops -what more could a child want from a summer holiday? Throw in shady pine trees, bikes for rent and a ferry that gets you to St Mark’s Square in 40 minutes, and most parents won’t be grumbling, either.
Okay, so you’re camping, but this is four-star camping at the Marina di Venezia, which has a nonstop programme of family activities. And it’s awesome value. Two adults and two children sharing a fully equipped tent pay a total of £ 161/£ 373, including car-ferry crossings, with Venue Holidays (01233 629950, www. venueholidays.co.uk).
18 St Brelade’s Bay, Jersey
You can travel halfway around the world to find a classy hotel on a sheltered sandy bay, or you can go to Jersey. St Brelade’s is the island’s most popular beach -perfect for swimming, sunbathing, people-watching and windsurfing.
Jersey may have a fusty image of hairnets and hankies, but in recent years it has built up a collection of sleek designer hotels. Among them is L’Horizon, which has a highly rated spa where you can get wrapped in seaweed, a heated indoor pool and four restaurants. Take a sea-facing room and you’ll wake to the sound of waves lapping on the beach.
Prices start at £ 743/£ 1,009, B&B, including flights from Gatwick, with Channel Islands Direct (0870 889 0817, www. channelislandsdirect.co.uk).
Up to two children under 13 sharing their parents’ room go for £ 312 each, year-round.
19 Sani, Halkidiki
Tourism is frequently blamed for destroying natural environments, but go to the west coast of Halkidiki and you’ll see something remarkable. Fifty years ago, Sani was a 1,000-acre malarial swamp; today, it is one of Greece’s most attractive resort complexes, an ecological reserve of pine forests, jagged cliffs and a long, sandy Blue Flag beach. Here you’ll find four hotels, a camp site and a marina packed with luxury yachts.
Purists might regard Sani as a sanitised version of Greece.
In fact, it has the feel of an authentic village, albeit one where children can run around without fear of being mown down by motorbikes. Throw in a few Greek tavernas, hiking trails, an outdoor cinema, a couple of spas and a new British-run creche for children aged six months and up, and you have something close to family-holiday heaven.
The four-star Sani Beach Club (00 30 23740 99400, www. saniresort.gr) hits the right note for parents and children, and has the best beachfront. Prices start at £ 65/£ 117pp per night, all-inclusive. BA (0870 850 9850, www.ba.com) and Olympic Airlines (0870 606 0460, www. olympicairlines.com) fly to Thessaloniki, 50 miles away.
20 Pinarello, Corsica
Compromise is essential to all beach holidays. Do you want the best hotel or the one nearest the sea? Good restaurants or children’s clubs? One thing’s for sure: you can’t have everything.
If it’s a beautiful hotel on a perfect Mediterranean beach you’re after, you’ll struggle to beat the Hotel Pinarello, in the south near Porto Vecchio. The bay at Pinarello is ideal -a few seafood restaurants, an old church and a couple of jetties stretching into the clear water.
The hotel, recently upgraded in contemporary shades, has a bar terrace right on the white sand and 24 rooms, all with sea-facing balconies. Yes, it gets busy in August; but, again, you can’t have it all. Prices start at £ 859/£ 1,299, B&B, with Holiday Options (0870 420 8372, www.holidayoptions.co.uk). Car hire starts at £ 149 per week.
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