Now this is obviously very subjective and, of course, I haven’t been everywhere however I love beaches and prefer sand over shingle or rocks and I have been very fortunate to have seen quite a few great beaches in my travels. The list below are my favourites so far although by the time you read this I may have found an even better one, I am always looking!
What makes a great beach?
The first thing I think of is clean sand, nothing is worse than rubbish piled up on a terrific beach. Fine sand is, for me, the best with powder white coming right at the top but soft golden sand will work just as well.
Next is the water; clean, clear water with at most a little surf is ideal. Being able to laze in the water and relax is much more preferable than being pounded by surf and churned up like a washing machine, surfers would of course disagree. I don’t surf!
What about beach facilities? Well it’s nice to be able to get a cold beer and a bite to eat but apart from that I am not too worried. A nice sunset bar is a plus though and beach chairs with shade can sometimes come in handy.
Location is awkward, too close to town and the beach can get busy but if the beach is far away transportation can become an issue. Some beaches are really remote and that can be great as well but getting back to your room or hotel after being in the sun all day can be a bit of a slog.
Okay, I have outlined my main preferences so let’s get to the contentious issue of the beaches themselves, in reverse order of course!
White sands and great atmostphere at Palolem Beach, Goa, India
Palolem Beach, Goa, India
Oh what a beach we have here, miles of golden sand fronted by coconut palms and blessed by tropical sunshine. Once a mainstay of the hippy trail, Palolem still retains its alternative feel, locals and tourists play cricket together on the beach at sunset and bamboo rental shacks line the shoreline. The bars and restaurants are active all day serving tender Goan cooking, cold beers and any cocktail you can imagine.
I love this place because it is not easy to get to, a little effort is required and that deters the day trippers from the north. There are a few big hotels here but they are away from the main beach around the headland. Take a taxi or bus from Panjim, it should take a couple of hours passing through wonderfully coloured villages as you head south through the hills.
The village at Palolem is welcoming and relaxed a perfect retreat from the regular rigours of Indian travel.
Beach Bars and Ancient Ruins at Patara, Turkey
Wandering around the rocky coast of southern Turkey can be a dry affair, a few small coves but not much to write home about. A few Kilometres to the west of Kas at Patara that all changes; wide open sands, a great beach bar and ancient ruins. The bus will drop you off at the junction where a minibus plies its trade towards the beach and the ruins. There is a small village just before this and it’s possible to stay there if you are not worried about nightlife.
This beach is immense with crystal clear water and lovely fine sand, I recommend using the sun loungers for the little Lira it costs. Walk back after the beach through the ruins and pick up the minibus at the junction.
Relaxed Meia Praia, Lagos, Portugal complements the night life of the town
Meia Praia, Lagos, Portugal
The wild nights in Lagos are made to fit perfectly with sleeping lazily on the beautiful beaches that surround the town. I could have plumbed from the many cove beaches that litter the coastline but they do tend to get a bit busy. Just across the river however we find four kilometres of white sand on the Meia Praia. It is stunning and without transport will take a good thirty minutes from town to get to the best bits.
I suggest walking a Kilometre away from town until you have almost a football field of free sand around you. The water is cold all summer but at least from June until September it is bearable. Beach bars are spread out in good order and the dunes are now protected. Let’s hope development is slow.
All amenities are provided for on Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres, Yucatan, Mexico
Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres, Yucatan, Mexico
Welcome to Margaritaville, oh this was almost my number one! With a great youth hostel 100 metres away (Poc Na) at $8.00 a night and smoking happy hours you really need an excellent chill out beach. Hammocks and large double beds on the sand, Tiki bars and swings at the bar, iridescent blue ocean and white, oh so white sand. I am in heaven! My favourite bar at Sunset Grill kicks up Frozen Margaritas to die for, they put them in the freezer for you while you slip off for a quick swim. Don’t tell anyone!
Kata Beach, Phuket, Thailand
Simplicity becons at Kata Beach, Phuket, Thailand
Simplicity itself, this beach has it all.
Set just south of the main tourist area of Patong, Kata has three beaches the best of which is referred to as Kata Yai. Club Med first developed here a number of years ago and the have most of the land to the back of the crescent shaped beach. This has had the effect of making it almost look like a private beach, but of course it is not, there is little development in the middle hence most of the bars are to the north and south ends.
Crisp white sand with a palm tree backing leads out to turquoise waters perfect for swimming, grab your mask and fins or strap a tank to your back and in less than a hundred metres you are over the local reef!
Take a massage in the shade of the trees or cool off with a nice cold beer from one of the vendors before settling down to bronze again. After you have had your fill head to the reggae bar at the far south of the beach “On The Rocks” to enjoy a sundowner and set the plans for the following day.