A firm favourite amongst European holidaymakers, Cyprus has it all going on, whether you choose the West Coast with its shining beaches and pure blue waters, or opt for the lively East Coast, which boasts not only some of the best nightlife in Europe, but also the clean waters and sandy beaches that are so important for the perfect family holiday, you will never be disappointed.
Cyprus may only be a few hours away from the UK, but this Mediterranean island has a climate that is almost subtropical, making it not only a great place for guaranteed summer sun but also perfect for a winter escape; with its year round sunshine, laid back culture, great food and well developed sense of fun, Cyprus is the perfect beach destination that not only delivers, but surpasses your expectations.
A little further afield are the gloriously tropical beaches of Goa, images of gently swaying palm trees, miles of white beaches and sunshine that lasts all day, are a reality in this beautiful Indian State; the sunsets over the western coast and the Arabian sea are said to be some of the most spectacular in the world, giving Goa a well deserved place in the top ten.
There is more to Goa than just the beaches though, the friendly people, with their own special welcome will make you feel right at home; laid back relaxation is the order of the day, whether you want the authentic charm of Candolim or the lively nightlife of Baga, Goa is certain to delight – only by spending time relaxing in the countries beautiful beach resorts, can you truly appreciate all that Goa has to offer.
3. The Algarve
Covering over 100 miles of the southern coast of Portugal, no list would be complete without including the Portuguese Algarve, the sheer number of travellers who choose the Algarve simply can’t be wrong – it may be that they travel for the numerous sandy beaches, it could be the crisp Atlantic waters or it could simply be that there is nowhere else quite as welcoming as this fantastic strip of popular coastline.
The coming together of cultures is unique in the Algarve, North African influences can be found in everything from the food to the architecture whilst the European influences are to seen in the many golf courses, the fantastic wines and of course the Mediterranean feel that surrounds you – renowned for its family friendly ethos, the Algarve is the perfect beach destination for those that want somewhere bright, vibrant and yet comfortingly familiar.
4. Florida Keys
It may seem like a fair distance to travel to enjoy a beach holiday but this string of islands will soon win you over with its tropical sunsets and clear blue waters, but this destination is one with added appeal, one where there is far more to keep you busy than lying on its admittedly beautiful beaches; the perfect way to see the Florida keys is to travel around, from the top to the bottom, taking in the best that each of the islands has to offer.
Central Grassy Key is the one with the big appeal, this is the place that visitors flock to, in order to experience the unique dolphin interaction program, home to the Dolphin Research Centre, this is the genuine experience that puts all others in the shade. To complete your Florida Keys holiday, head down to Key West to watch the sunset from Mallory Square, the ultimate beach holiday memory that will last forever.
Very few places can boast that their entire coastlines have been designated as a protected area, the Spanish Balearic island of Menorca with its natural beauty, glorious golden beaches and unspoilt coastline however has; the knowledge that this relaxed Mediterranean idyll will continue to be as pleasing to the eye for future generations, gives good reason for it to earn its place as a top beach destination.
The summer sunshine of Menorca is particularly appealing to the family market, the flat terrain of the island ensuring that cooling breezes moderate the extremes of heat making it perfect for beach lovers of all ages; the safe, sheltered beaches of Cala Galdana are particularly popular, whilst those looking for something a little more cosmopolitan will love Cala’n Bosch with its thriving marina that offers something a little stylish for the more discerning traveller.
Although Mexico has several well developed resorts, Cancun deserves to be mentioned in its own right, home to the largest coral reef in the America’s and boasting no less than eleven individual beaches, Cancun is a beach lovers paradise; the Caribbean waters that lap the shores are not only impossibly turquoise but are warm enough to enjoy the fantastic range of water sports and activities that resort offers.
The area of Cancun is the most amazing self contained resort, but if you can draw yourself away from the pure white sands there is far more to Mexico than just an excellent beach destination; the history and culture and nature of this ancient land is all around, from the Mayan ruins to the purest of lagoons and tropical jungles, the alternative side of Mexico is all there, just waiting to be discovered.
If you want natural beauty, then the Turkish coastline has it by the bucketful, the beaches range from lengthy stretches of golden sand to tiny shingle beaches with secluded coves that remain peaceful even at the height of the peak summer season; with the shortest of mild winter seasons, Turkey is the perfect escape for those that want the convenience of a European resort, with more than just a hint of exotic eastern spice in the air – Turkey perfectly combines the familiar with the opportunity to try something new.
The turquoise seas that Turkey is so well known for are perfectly set against the emerald forests of the pine clad hillsides; the resort of Marmaris has the perfect location to appreciate this rugged beauty, snuggled in amongst the peaks, but for the perfect beach holiday it has to be the neighbouring resort of Ichmeler, here the relaxed beach is coated in the finest of golden sand, making it the ultimate Turkish beach destination.
Gambia may be the smallest of the African nations but it certainly isn’t short of a huge welcome, this tiny stretch of land with its long Atlantic coastline is developing a welcoming reputation that firmly puts it into the top ten of beach destinations; perfect for winter sun, with its high temperatures, sun filled days and an almost zero chance of rain this is the ultimate winter warmer.
Exotic in the true sense of the word, Gambia has its fill of swamps, and mahogany woodland that contain a fabulous diversity of wildlife, a paradise for bird watchers and animal spotters alike, this is more than just a beach destination; relaxation or exploration, Gambia has it all – a country filled with a deep sense of vibrant African culture that can be as lively or as laid back as required, making it more than just another beach resort.
9. Cote D’Azure
No list would be complete without including the glamour and glitz of the south of France, the French Riviera takes in some of the most luxurious and hedonistic places not only in Europe but the world; Nice, Cannes and St. Tropez all forever linked with the golden age of Hollywood and travel ,when only the very best would do. Surrounded by the Mediterranean with its perfect waters shimmering blue against the exclusive beaches, the Cote D’Azure takes beach holidays to a whole new level of opulence.
Cannes may once have been little more than a small fishing village but come May, the resort becomes the social centre of Europe as Hollywood descends for the annual film festival, whereas Nice exudes year round exclusivity with its architectural treasures and private beaches. Whichever part of the Cote D’Azure you choose, you are guaranteed that this is one destination that you will never forget.
With almost twelve hundred idyllic islands to choose from, the Maldives really has to be the most deserved destination to be included in the list, and although not all the islands are inhabited, the ones that are (particularly the ones set aside as tourist resorts) are pretty special. There is no disputing that if you place a resort on a small island surrounded by the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean then it is going to be a spectacular beach destination.
Although best known as a destination to get away from it all, the Maldives have plenty to interest more active travellers; most resorts offer excellent water activities, particularly for those looking for spectacular dive sites – underwater caves, black coral and shoals of impossibly coloured fish make these deep waters exciting for even the most experienced of divers, whilst the shallow waters offer a safer environment for the less confident. Look beyond the miles of pure white beaches to really appreciate the true beauty of these paradise isles and you won’t be disappointed.