With the sun finally blessing the majority of Australia in time for summer, it’s only appropriate that we celebrate the solar rays with a guide to 10 of the best beach destinations in the world.
Strap on your panama hats and your polarised sunnies, this is a guide you might get a golden glow from just by reading! Our resident travel writer Rosie Jacobs outlines ten of the best beach destinations to consider visiting.
1. WHITEHAVEN BEACH, THE WHITSUNDAYS, AUSTRALIA
Often the best beaches are the hardest to find, therefore the cleanest and the least crowded. Whitehaven is this, in a nutshell. Fly into Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays, then either hire a boat or fly in by sea plane or helicopter and here you are, on some of the whitest sand you will find anywhere on the globe. The bay is protected, so the water is crystal clear, and it’s a national park so there’s very little man-made disturbance. The water temperatures are warm year round and it’s possibly the best place on the globe for a champagne picnic. (Top tip, avoid January through to March as it could be a little too hot and the stingers can be an issue).
2. FINN’S BEACH CLUB, ULUWATU, BALI
The first fabulous feature about this beach is that you can only access it via an inclinator that drops you down the side of a sheer cliff and then onto 180 metres of pristine beach. It’s just you and a chic and relaxed beach restaurant and bar with beanbags, cocktails, a pizza oven and the unique Indonesian smile and pace. This place is kid friendly and an easy way to spend an entire day without feeling the need to be anywhere else on earth. It’s a magical place to sit and wait for the orange and fuchsia sunsets on display almost every night of the year.
3. CHAMPAGNE BEACH, ESPIRITU SANTO, VANUATU
Espiritu Santo is a small, remote, hidden away island in the South Pacific, just a short flight from Vanuatu’s main island Efate. It’s worth the journey, as Champagne Beach will make you feel giddy with awe at the colours of the sand, the bright blue water and the palm green coconut trees lining the shore. The local women do an extraordinary performance of banging the water with their hands like drums, as an old fishing technique that is like watching a synchronized dance routine.
Don’t forget to take your bottle of real champagne!
4. RED, WHITE AND BLACK BEACHES, SANTORINI, GREEK ISLANDS
I still can’t explain exactly how these three beaches came to be as they are, but there are three bays, alongside each other in a remote stretch along the coastline of the Greek Island of Santorini. The colours of the sand at each vary from red rocks, to black pebbles and lastly, white sand. Spend the day catching the tiny boat between the three to experience the vast, natural changes of each beach and enjoy a local lunch at one of the nearby Greek sea shacks that serve fresh fish and cold glasses of wine.
5. GOCEK, TURKEY
You may have heard of Bodrum, the more well known beach destination on Turkey’s coastline, but its tiny cousin further down the coast is where it’s at. Start at Bodrum, to board your Gulet (a Turkish sailing boat) and head down the dry cliffs through the azure waters to the brightly coloured coast of Gocek, dripping in bougainvillea and dotted with white architecture.
The bays along this coast boast incredible little restaurants to pull into for meals and little towns with markets and Turkish rugs that are impossible to resist.
6. CALVI, CORSICA
Corsica is a fascinating little island in the French Riviera, with both a French and Italian background, red cliffs, white beaches, aqua bays and let’s not forget the French and Italian cuisine. In other words, it’s the best of both worlds!
Start in the coastal town of Calvi, at the port (alongside the luxury yachts!) but from there, hire your own little zodiac boat for the day and zoom past the millionaires without a care in the world to discover the tiny bays they can’t reach! Admire the citadel and ancient architecture as you cruise under the French Riviera sunshine.
7. CINQUE TERRE, ITALY
Cinque Terre translates to “Five Lands” along the Italian Riviera. In other words, it’s five stunning little coastal towns, in a row, connected by a tiny railway line and a coastal walk called Via Del Amore. (The Lover’s Walk). Each of the beaches is different, from the largest, Monterosso to the quaint little bays of Vernazza and with colourful little houses nestled into the hillsides along the way. The beaches are true to the Italian style, exploding with vibrant sun umbrellas and Italian cafes and pizzerias as far as the eye can see. Do the lover’s walk and take a small padlock of some form with you, because it’s tradition to lock one on a railing along the way, with your lover’s name on it. Then stop for a refreshing limoncello as the sun goes down… although it’ll be hard to say no to a second.
8. ALGARVE, PORTUGAL
It’s hard to believe your eyes when you drive through stark white salt fields, glistening like snow on a thirty degree day to a tiny little putt-putt boat harbour on bright blue waters that carries you across the coastline to the red chalky rocks and cliffs of the Algarve beaches.
This stretch of coastline won’t stay secret for too much longer, and it’s a good thing it’s a journey to reach because the basic little sea-shacks that offer fresh fish with capers, tomatoes and olive oil are not built for crowds. The jugs of cool sangria are also so refreshing, you won’t want to share them with anyone else!
9. PARATY, BRAZIL
The town of Paraty has been known to Brazilians forever as the holiday destination of choice, and there’s a reason for it. The cobble-stoned streets haven’t changed since they originated, except for a new coat of bright blue, yellow, white or pink paint over the years, which adds to the charm. But it’s the coast and what they do with it that makes this region extraordinary. Little fishing boats spend their days cruising from beach to beach, island to island, bay to bay selling fresh delights for lunch, and you’d be a madman to refuse. Stay at the local pousadas (small hotels) and enjoy the Brazilian hospitality and cervejas (beers) that seem to go swimmingly with the seafood. And let’s face it, the Brazilians know how to live the beach life.
10. LAURITO BEACH, POSITANO, ITALY
It’s not so much the beach here in this pocket of the Positano coastline in the south of Italy, as the restaurant that sits on it. It’s called Da Adolfo (after the owner, Adolfo) and it's Italy’s best-kept secret. A tiny little boat with a wooden red fish on its mast spends its days traversing the beaches, ferrying those in the know to this hidden gem. Arrive on the tiny rickety jetty and be ushered to an even tinier, more rickety table for lunch that is hand selected for you, based on what’s fresh on the day. Salads, prosciutto, melon, tomato, mozzarella, calamari, spaghetti, prawns, garlic, lemon, clams, hungry yet?
After lunch, laze in the sunshine and take a dip on the warm Italian waters, before settling back in for dessert.