Monthly Archives: December 2016

Tips To Salvage A Beach Holiday After A Painful Start

The sun: such a wondrous, life-giving, and – let’s not forget – dangerous entity. Its power demands respect, particularly after you’ve been burned to a crisp from water reflection alone while thinking you were safely hidden in the shade during an all-day boat tour in New Zealand. Trust me, you only need to experience sizzling hot, blistering armpits once to develop a healthy respect for the sun.
Whether you get burned despite your best efforts, or because you were asking for it, the question of what to do for the remainder of your beach vacation suddenly becomes all-consuming. Because I know this singular scenario all too well, I have compiled the following suggestions.

Umbrella-protected reading
No duh, right? But there’s reading and then there’s single-celled, vacation reading. Take care to choose the latter. Acceptable subjects include: humor; adventure; teenage wizards; travel memoirs written by self-deprecating klutzes so that you feel better about your doofus self; sci-fi lite; and libido-driven vampires. Politics, history (particularly concerning tragic events) or anything that causes more then one synapse to fire at a time is forbidden.

Bar = good.

Open, covered bar = better.

Open, covered, swim-up bar = nirvana!

Just be sure to stay hydrated. Few things fill up the Misery Bingo Card faster than a sunburn-punctuated hangover.

Protected swimming
There are still several options for enjoying a day in the water after you’ve burned yourself like a cheap meatloaf. The no-brainer option is a covered swimming pool at a hotel, but some destinations have alternatives like spas, water parks, and even cool water tubs. (It should go without saying, but DO NOT get into a hot tub while sunburned!) Then there are the natural protected options, like swimming in the caves and cenotes of Mexico. Lastly, one can always (gingerly) wriggle into a full-body wetsuit and snorkel/scuba the day away.

Seaside destinations often have aquariums within striking distance. The quality of these attractions vary wildly – those featuring the more lovable, intelligent members of the aquatic mammal community can be downright depressing – but a well-executed aquarium is a beautiful thing, with the added advantage of getting an eyeful of the local marine life.

Ah! Sweet, air-conditioned, windowless museums. Not an ultraviolet ray in sight. This, of course, is the exact opposite of your carefully laid sand and ocean breeze-scented vacation goals, but a retreat of this nature while your skin is still hot enough to heat water for tea is a nice, temporary reprieve.

Unless you’ve booked yourself into a fortified resort compound miles from anything interesting, chances are there’s some manner of eating adventure to indulge in nearby. Buy the biggest, floppiest sunhat you can find for protection and investigate the market, food district, main pedestrian street (or, more likely, the streets parallel to the main pedestrian street) for local delicacies and weirdness.

OK, in a beach environment this has the potential to get creepy in a hurry (don’t be creepy, brah!), but a beach with a mix of international visitors can be quite the cultural spectacle. If you have a sunburn co-sufferer, ‘Name That Nationality’ is a reliably amusing people-watching pastime that can be played from a safe distance, ideally from the stools of a well-stocked cocktail bar.

Physical games are mostly out. ‘Sunburn Twister’ rapidly loses its initial appeal and don’t even think about volleyball. Equally, card games can lead to being involuntarily exposed to the sun while chasing windblown cards down the beach after every gentle breeze. However, a genial game of chess will pass the time nicely. After a few drinks, you may want to switch to checkers. Once you’re good and buzzed, few games are more hilarious, and brief, than Jenga.
You’re almost definitely not alone in your sunburn suffering. There’s a certain comfort in sharing your pain with others, so get all the sunburned victims from the hotel/hostel together and organize tournaments like the ‘Shade Olympics’ or the ‘Thirsty Games’. Alternatively, embrace that wretched sunburn and light up your Instagram and Facebook feeds with creative, staged, sunburn-themed photos – eg, toasting bread on your stomach or giving other people sunburn with the heat of your sunburn.

Personally research sunburn remedies
For you productive/proactive types, rather than sitting idly and suffering, you may want to consider your setback as a challenge and concoct sunburn remedies, either by combining known treatments for faster recovery or breaking new ground. What happens when you bathe in a mixture of water, olive oil and mango yogurt? Only one way to find out! At the very least, you’ll have additional goofball material for your social media feeds.

Know More About Sardinia’s Top 10 Beaches

Even in a country where gorgeous beaches are two a penny, the Italians admit that those in Sardinia are particularly bellissima. The island regularly tops polls of the world’s best beaches, with spiagge ranging from the rugged, cliff-backed coves of the east to the dune-flanked strands of the west.
Sardinia’s snow-white beaches and bluer-than-blue seas are often likened to the Caribbean – but why, quite frankly, would you want to imagine yourself anywhere else?

Best for escapists: Is Aruttas
Spearing into the Golfo di Oristano, the beaches on the Sinis Peninsula rank among the island’s loveliest, though ideally you need your own car to reach them. Fairest of all is Is Aruttas, an arc frosted with white sand and tiny pebbles that make the water appear a startling shade of aquamarine. For years its quartz sand was carted off for aquariums and beaches on the Costa Smeralda, but no more.

Bored of flopping on the beach? The nearby holiday resort of Putzu Idu attracts surfers, windsurfers and kitesurfers. Or take a boat trip to bare, rocky Isola di Mal di Ventre (Stomach Ache Island), which owes its name to the sea-sickness that sailors often suffered whilst navigating its windy waters.

Best for families: Chia
What the resort of Chia lacks in the charm stakes, it makes up for with enticing surrounds. To see what all the fuss is about, head up to the Spanish watchtower and look down on its pretty pair of beaches – Spiaggia Sa Colonia to the west, horseshoe-shaped Spiaggia Su Portu to the east. Both have pale sands and shallow waters. Flamingos wade in the lagoon behind the beach.

Fancy a road trip? The panoramic SP71 road dips and rises for 25km along the Costa del Sud, one of southern Sardinia’s most beautiful coastal stretches.

Best for solitude: Spiaggia di Piscinas
It’s worth going the extra mile to the Costa Verde (Green Coast) for a glimpse of the Sardinian coast at its wildest. Hands down one of the loveliest beaches is Spiaggia di Piscinas, a ribbon of golden sand running between a windswept sea and a vast expanse of dunes flecked by hardy green macchia scrub. The towering dunes rise up to 60m. Find the beach down a 9km dirt track off the SS126 (Ingurtosu exit).

Want more? Slide over to neighbouring Spiaggia di Scivu. Backed by huge dunes, the 3km lick of fine sand is wonderfully secluded.

Best for swimming: Spiaggia Rena Bianca
Santa Teresa di Gallura’s main beach is a beauty, with a swathe of pale sand and some of the clearest, shallowest water on the island, making it a cracking choice for a proper swim – even for families with small children. From the beach you can gaze out across the Strait of Bonifacio’s spectrum of blues over to Corsica and up to the 16th-century Torre di Longonsardo.
From the beach’s eastern tip a trail threads along the coast, past granite boulders and rock formations that fire the imagination with their incredible shapes. More spectacular still is Capo Testa, 4km west of Santa Teresa, with its giant, wind-licked granite boulders and trails threading through the scrub to rocky coves and the cobalt Med.

Best for white sands: Spiaggia della Pelosa
A ravishing sweep of beach, 2.5km north of Stintino, Spiaggia della Pelosa elicits gasps of wonder with its fine floury sand and shallow sea that fades from aquamarine to topaz. It’s presided over by a Catalan-Aragonese watchtower across the water on the craggy Isola Piana. The beach is packed in July and August, so avoid these months for a more peaceful experience.

While you’re here, take the boat over to the Isola dell’Asinara, a national park named after its resident albino donkeys. The island is best explored on foot or by bike. Or join the windsurfers catching the breeze off Stintino.

Best celebrity hideaway: Spiaggia del Principe
Where to escape from the paparazzi lens on Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda is the million dollar question for the celebs who flock here on their mega-yachts. A number of beautiful coves necklace the fabulous swoop of coastline where Gallura’s wind-whipped granite mountains tumble down to fjordlike inlets in the emerald sea. One of the finest is the Spiaggia del Principe, a stunning crescent of pale sand snuggled among low cliffs named after Prince Karim Aga Khan, who has given it his seal of approval.

Bear in mind that the Costa Smeralda is saturated with Italian holidaymakers in July and August, so shun these months for cheaper room rates and quieter beaches.

Best for hikers and climbers: Cala Goloritzè
One of the loveliest bays you’re ever likely to clap eyes on, Cala Goloritzè nestles in the southern crook of the Golfo di Orosei. We can wax lyrical about how the sea shimmers like blue curaçao and bizarre limestone formations fling up from cliffs draped in macchia and holm oaks, but seeing really is believing. The Aguglia, a 148m high needle of rock that towers over the beach, is a magnet for climbers.

The beach is around an hour’s walk descending on the old mule trail from the Altopiano del Golgo, a strange, other-worldly plateau where goats, pigs and donkeys graze. A signposted road from Baunei climbs 2km of impossibly steep switchbacks to the plateau.

Best for boat touring: Golfo di Orosei
Where the Gennargentu mountains collide spectacularly with the sea, the huge sweeping crescent of the Golfo di Orosei is no one-hit-wonder when it comes to beaches. Base yourself, say, in Cala Gonone to strike out along the coast on foot or by boat.

If you do nothing else, cruise along the ‘Blue Crescent’, which is honeycombed with grottoes and hidden coves, where limestone cliffs sheer above crystal-clear sea. Rock climbers spider up the cliffs of wildly beautiful Cala Luna, backed by a ravine and pummelled by exquisite turquoise waters. Cala Sisine, Cala Biriola, Cala Mariolu – each cove here is more mind-blowingly beautiful than the next.

Best for exotic vibes: Cala Brandinchi
Undeniably the loveliest of San Teodoro’s beaches, Cala Brandinchi is often dubbed ‘Little Tahiti’ and it really does live up to the hype. The bay is a thin arc of soft sand lapped by crystalline turquoise waters and surrounded by pine woods. The hump of Isola Tavolara rises on the horizon.

Touring the coast reveals a scattering of other beach beauties, such as Spiaggia La Cinta, with sugar-fine sand and topaz sea. The beach attracts kitesurfers and birdwatchers who head to Stagno San Teodoro to spot pink flamingos, herons, little egrets and kingfishers.

Best for island-hoppers: La Maddalena
Part of a cluster of pink granite islands and islets forming the Parco Nazionale dell’Arcipelago di La Maddalena, La Maddalena dangles off the northeastern tip of Sardinia in the wind-buffed Strait of Bonifacio between Sardinia and Corsica. It’s a terrific base for boating around the island’s fabulous coves, jewel-coloured waters and granite licked into weird natural sculptures. Elena Tour is a good choice for boat tours.

Or hop across to its wild, serene sister, Isola Caprera, with pine trees cloaking granite cliffs and several tempting coves. Giuseppe Garibaldi, revolutionary and all-round Italian hero, loved Caprera and made it his home and refuge at the Compendio Garibaldino.

Should You know About Beaches That Will Blow Your Mind

From secluded coves and turquoise-trimmed bays to windswept, black-sand coastlines carved from volcanic rock – there’s just something about beaches that gets our travel senses tingling.
Let’s face it: the beach that will blow your mind next is more than likely the next one you can get to, regardless of where it is – but if you don’t have a seaside jaunt planned, this selection from 50 Beaches to Blow your Mind will soon have you reaching for your sunhat and shades.

Navagio Beach – Zakynthos, Greece
Completely. It’s 87 kinds of beautiful coming at you all at once. Secluded, protected by vertical cliffs that tower above, sparkling azure as imagined by Greek gods, pure, perfect sand and, just to give it an extra bit of character, like a beauty spot on a face, a shipwreck!

I just want to go there now. Can I please go there now?
Easy as can be – as long as you’re in Zakynthos. If you are, there are a number of towns, Porto Vromi for example, from where you can take a boat to paradise. It is as you see it – there are no amenities – so you’ll need to bring with you all the supplies you need for the time you’re on the sand/in the water/exploring the shipwreck.

How did that wreck get…wrecked?
It was a smuggler’s ship caught doing its dirty work in 1982. During bad weather a while after the seizure, the boat was washed up on the shore where it was left to rust.

It just looks so amazing!
To get a view of the beach from on high, visit the village of Anafonitria. There’s a platform at a monastery there and the sight of the bay below you will make you wish you were there. And then, of course, you can be!
Bowling Ball Beach – Mendocino, California, USA
Bowling balls?
This striking (thank you, thank you very much) beach is part of the Schooner Gulch State Beach reserve. It’s one for the beachcombers, photographers and geologists, no question. The spherical rocks (specifically, ‘concretions’ – packed sandstone eroded into the balls you see) almost look like a strange family from a Disney film, rolling in to greet you.

These are some freaky boulders.
Rock hopping is a lot of fun (take care, they can be slippery), but go at low tide to get the full experience. Find a little rock pool and explore a microcosm of sea life. You’ll probably be alone, as this is not a high traffic beach: the whales passing by offshore will be all yours to enjoy.

What’s the water like?
Feel like a little surfing? You can do that here. Windsurfing too. The swimming is good and there are hiking opportunities as well. You want a perfect day for the family? Well then, just pack a picnic and your swimming costumes, explore the balls, collect some salty souvenirs from the caves and crags, and take a dip.
Tallow Beach – Byron Bay, Australia
Can these places please be a little closer together?!
With almost 36,000km of coastline, you’re going to have to travel to get to some of Australia’s most spectacular beaches. Byron Bay on New South Wales’ northern coast is worth the trip though.

What’s so special about it?
Apart from the fact that the beaches are beautiful, the vibe is laid waaaaay back (this place has a strong hippy history) and food and drink is close at hand – particularly at Tallow, which is in the heart of the town.

I am well up for laid-back.
Don’t let the world pass you by, though. How many town beaches give you whale watching alongside the usual suspects of surfing, swimming and sunning? It’s also a good fishing beach, so bring your tackle.

Dude, chill out a little.
Ah…ok. Well, you’ve found a little enlightenment then. It’s not surprising. So just relax on the beach till evening comes and the lighthouse sends out its beams to keep you enthralled. Then mosey into town when a snack seems the right idea. You’ll be very happy here.
Copacabana – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
A name I know.
It may not be the most beautiful beach in the world but it is certainly one of the most famous.

Top 5 maybe.
That’s what happens when a hit song features your name.

That song wasn’t about the beach.
People only hear the chorus. And it was conceived in Rio, so, you know, close enough. Anyway, the beach…

Yes, let’s talk about the beach…
This 4km stretch of action-packed beachy goodness has become party central in Rio. One and a half million people watched the Rolling Stones perform here!

What else is in store?
The beach zones off into interest areas: west of Copacabana Palace is the LGBT area, known as the Stock Market – look for the rainbow flag. Footballers hold court near Rua Santa Clara while next to Forte de Copacabana is the unofficial posto de pescadores (fishermen’s post).

It sounds busy!
Copacabana is a beach with a city of millions just a few metres away. And it won’t let you forget that for a minute.
Treen Cliff near Porthcurno © Guy Edwardes / Getty Images

Porthcurno – Cornwall, UK
This looks like quite the suntrap.
Indeed. Seeing a gorgeous little bay like Porthcurno makes you think that the Brits may just be keeping schtum to the rest of the world to get their stunning beaches all to themselves.

This beach looks like it could be in the Riviera or off the Croatian coast.
Doesn’t it just? Instead, it’s a little cove just 4km from Land’s End, the most westerly point of the English mainland.

So can I assume it’s a hidden gem?
Not exactly. While the world goes about thinking all British beaches are windswept and rugged, the people of Cornwall and surrounds are happily sunning themselves in their slice of coastal paradise. The beach is popular with families: kids love to play in the freshwater stream that runs down into the surf.

That’s a pretty impressive rock formation around the cove.
The 65-tonne rock you can see balancing on the Treen Castle cliffs is known as Logan’s Rock. It used to sway back and forth in fierce winds but after it was pushed into the sea by some unruly soldiers in 1824 it was raised back to its resting place and secured to prevent it from being dislodged.