Soak up the Sun at these 15 Top Beach Holiday Destinations
Get your sun tan lotion or surfboard at the ready - these incredible hotspots are calling
The beach - those two words fill even the most unenthusiastic holidaymaker with anticipation. A beach holiday really has it all. You can snooze under the sun, skim your way through the year's trashiest novel, and boogie at a beach bar. But for the more adventurous among you, the beach doesn't have to mean remaining horizontal for 12 hours, slowly getting sunburnt. The sand and sea provide plenty of opportunities for daring exploits - whether surfing the waves or the sand dunes. In fact, we here at Plum Guide would argue that some of the best beach destinations are in places where you'd be a little mad to sunbathe - and you can trust our advice, because we are experts when it coms to this kind of thing. The bonus for the missing sun in these isolated destinations means a lack of crowds too. So get your bucket and spade ready, and choose your favourite of the beach holiday destinations.
Antalya is the gateway to the Turkish Riviera, and the largest city on Turkey's western Meditteranean coastline. This region is often sidelined by the less discerning Western traveller, but it's a hugely desirable destination. Antalya has been inhabited by the Romans, Byzantines, Seljuk Turks, Ottomans, and even briefly by the Italians. This rich history means it has an attractive old town, with a winding labyrinth of narrow alleyways lined with Ottoman houses. Use this city as a base to access numerous sandy beaches beyond the city's very own. We recommend visiting Phaselis for a combination of ancient monuments, white sand, pine trees, and sparkling blue water.
A roundup of the world's best beach holiday destinations wouldn't be complete without a tropical paradise. Bora Bora is the sparkling diamond of the South Seas, and undoubtedly the most famous of the French Polynesia islands - it can be reached via a 45-minute flight from the island's capital. The beaches you'll find here are white-sanded slices of heaven set around the world's most crystal clear lagoon. Stay in an overwater bungalow, and spend your day swinging in a hammock or swimming with black-tipped reef sharks (if you dare).
Baja California Sur, Mexico
Being the Earth's second-longest peninsula, Baja California has an endless stretch of coastline to uncover. And for those that make the full Tijuana to Los Cabos road trip, you'll get to experience the real wildness and diversity of this Mexican state. Even if you base yourself in the capital La Paz, you'll be close to some of the region's most spectacular beaches. Visit Balandra Beach (a bay surrounded by white sand dunes), or make the journey to Espiritu Santo Island. Here, you can kayak with sea lions and gentle whale sharks.
Palawan Archipelago, Philippines
Palawan is regarded as the Philippines' last frontier - tourists from Thailand have yet to descend on this paradise (and we hope it stays that way). Palawan is an archipelagic province made up of islands strung across turquoise waters. Surreal limestone towers covered in impenetrable jungle surround white sand lagoon beaches. This beach holiday is all about exploring, and we know of a few hubs that you can base yourself from - El Nino and Coron. Enjoy some of the best scuba diving in Asia, swim with whale sharks between sunken World War II shipwrecks, and float through an underground river.
When you imagine visiting a beach city, Sydney is likely the first place that pops into your mind. In fact, when it comes to naming the best beaches here, it's hard to know where to begin. 100 golden stretches of sand sit sprinkled around the harbour and along the coast, both north and south of the Harbour Bridge. You could make like all the tourists and head to Bondi Beach, catch a wave with the other surfers, swim in the iconic pool, and enjoy a beer and "barbie" at the beachside park. Or, you could head to the more secluded Shelly Beach - this beach is part of a nature reserve, so it's ideal for snorkelling and spotting water dragons.
Did you spend your youth reading Gerald Durrell's funny account of his childhood in My Family and Other Animals? If so, you are likely desperate to visit Corfu. And don't worry, the island is just as idyllic as the author depicts. As soon as you leave the mass tourist hubs, you'll find the cypress-studded hills, sandy coves, and hilly villages of the island's greatest literature. The beaches here are postcard-perfect, and there's a diverse mix of pebbles, sandy stretches, rocky coves, and inlets. Our favourite beach is Paleokastritsa, so don't forget to stop by.
D.H. Lawrence described Sardinia as "lost between Europe and Africa, and belonging to nowhere", and we can't help but agree. We think Sardinia is your best option if you're looking for an island to be marooned upon for a week. Sardinia is the ideal spot for you if you want white sand, crystal clear waters, and hot temperatures - without spending all your savings flying outside Europe. There are very few places where you can find mountains, secluded forests, and snow-white beaches in such a short distance. This varied landscape means that one day you can be lounging on the beach, and the next, hiking to your heart's content. If you want to chase adventure and glimpse the Sardinian coast at its wildest, visit the Costa Verde.
If it's sun, sand, and sea you're after, then Seychelles should be at the top of your list. These picture-perfect islands lie scattered across the Indian Ocean, and are the ultimate spot for your beach holiday. Imagine the screensaver shot of tropical paradise - Seychelles is this and much more. Striking white-sand beaches are fringed with palm trees, and scattered with granite boulders. A number of the beaches are attached to luxury resorts, but paying to visit a stretch as jaw-droppingly beautiful as Anse Source d'Argent is more than worth it.
Ibiza is undoubtedly one of the world's best beach holiday destinations - it's got the sun, sand, sea and the promise of an unforgettable trip. This destination is ideal for the party-goers who just want to dance - you can find music venues on the beach front. But beyond the clubs, you'll find a laidback and low-key island. For those looking for the quieter and more bohemian side of the island, head to the North Coast. We recommend visiting the picturesque bay, Cala Xarraca, for snorkelling.
The Sunshine State is undoubtedly the finest beach hub in the USA. Lively Miami has a special allure - you can spend the day at South Beach and your nights in the clubs. But Florida also shines for another reason - yes, its swamps. For those who want to avoid spring break's hedonism, you can go wildlife spotting and birding. Kayak through Florida's semitropical landscapes and mangroves - spot manatees, dolphins, turtles and alligators. If this sounds like your kind of coastal adventure, we recommend visiting the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
Hawaii is the best beach spot for adventurous spirits. This destination is so jam-packed with diverse landscapes that you'll want to spend most of your time outdoors. You can find beaches of many kinds, from golden stretches of sand to secluded coves and volcanic pebbles. The coastline is your gateway to adrenaline-packed activity and the surfer bum lifestyle. You can catch waves, snorkel, dive, kayak, swim, fish, or hop aboard a whale-watching cruise. But if you simply want to sip a mai tai and eat seafood beachside, that's ok too.
While it's unlikely you'll be soaking up the sun here, Scotland is home to some of the best beaches in the world. Yes, you heard us right. If you snapped a picture of one of Scotland's beaches in summer, you would kid people into believing you were in the Caribbean. For the most epic stretches of white sands, clear waters, and coastal grasslands, head to the islands in the Outer Hebrides - ere you'll see seals, eagles, otters, and orchids. While it's unlikely you'll sunbathe, you will be able to enjoy a picnic and a hike with absolutely no one else in sight.
Vancouver Island, Canada
Vancouver Island is a must-visit if you're looking for wild and rugged beaches. Here, untamed forests meet golden sands, surfers ride frothing waves, and orcas cruise in the waters beyond. Tofino is an adventure lovers' paradise - it's the ultimate spot for slow living, bonfires on the beach, and outdoor sports. You can go from biking to hiking and surfing in one day. Two of the most spectacular beaches are Chesterman and Wickaninnish, but if you really want to get lost, book a tour and venture into the Great Bear Rainforest. You could be sharing your beach picnic with a black bear.
Pembrokeshire is home to some of the UK's most dramatic headland and secluded coves. This destination is for those of you after a beach holiday that's a little more adventurous than simply topping up your tan. Surf at Whitesands Bay, lose yourself looking in rock pools at Marloes Sands, and kayak into the Blue Lagoon. If you have time and energy on your hands, why not hike the entire Pembrokeshire Coastal Path? This trip covers 186 miles, and should only take 12 days (if you're fit). Or you could simply put your feet up and stay in Wales's most beautiful seaside town, Tenby.
Iceland may not be the first destination you think of for a beach holiday, but rest assured, it's home to some of the world's most epic stretches of sand. If you don't mind wearing thermal layers when exploring a coastline, this one's for you - Iceland's South Coast is home to some otherworldly black sand beaches. We recommend visiting Reynisfjara, near Vik, to see the surreal basalt stacks. Further on, you'll find Diamond Beach, scattered with ice chunks that sparkle in the sun. If you're after a truly epic vista, embark on a road trip south to Höfn, and visit Strokknes Beach at sundown. The jagged Vestrahorn Mountain towers dramatically in the background. Plus, if you go in summer, you'll have sun for 24 hours - that's what we call a win-win.