Winning tip: Es Coll Baix, Alcudia, Mallorca
The 6km-long main beach in Alcudia is one of the best and busiest in Spain. Yet at the end of the headland, several kilometres away is one of the best and loneliest in Spain, Es Coll Baix. It’s a big expanse of Robinson Crusoe-style beach below cliffs of scented pinewoods. The water is blue and when the sea is calm the snorkelling is great. The half-hour walk to it down a “path” involves some guesswork and climbing over boulders.
Camusdarach, near Mallaig, the Highlands
Venture south along the coast from Mallaig and you will discover bay after bay of pristine white sands, beyond which azure waters and offshore islands make for a scene that would not look out of place on a postcard from the Caribbean. Camusdarach, a short distance from the A830 around five miles south of Mallaig, makes the perfect stop for a day of paddling, picnicking or rock-pooling, whatever the Scottish weather might bring!
Low Newton, Northumberland
The beach south of Low Newton is a little piece of heaven on Earth, with soft sand and “refreshing” sea. Even in the height of summer you only bump into a handful of others. At one end lies Dunstanburgh Castle, one of the most beautiful in the country, and at the other the Ship Inn, a great resting point.
Hunmanby Gap, near Scarborough, North Yorkshire
A few minutes’ drive from Scarborough promenade is a beautiful hidden beach, with clean, golden sands and crystal blue sea. You’d be forgiven for thinking you were in the Maldives but for the capricious summer weather. A tiny beach cafe marks the entrance to the beach: it’s a small cabin run by a warm couple who come across as if they can’t believe this stretch of sand has remained such an unknown beauty spot for so long.
Kingsgate Bay, Broadstairs, Kent
Take the main road and you’ll miss it … A secluded, calm and serene sandy beach that’s often overlooked by visitors due to its lack of facilities. Forget that and go anyway – not necessarily for a traditional bucket and spade day out, (there are no lifeguards) but for the towering chalk archway and extensive sea caves.
Cala Junco, Panarea, Aeolian islands, Italy
The Aeolian Islands off Sicily each have their own beauty, but Panarea is the oldest. This island is full of flowers and small streets which lead to a famous archeological site, Capo Milazzese. Hidden behind the hill lies Cala Junco beach, isolated and wild. The rocky shore opens up to the turquoise beauty of the Tyrrhenian sea and it is one of the best places for snorkelling and enjoying the beauties of nature.
Stiniva, Vis, Croatia
Remain on the ferry as the masses disembark at Hvar to find the untouched coast and fishing villages of Vis. Hire a scooter and make for Stiniva beach on the north coast. A short hike from the road is well worth it when you see this secluded cove with crystal-clear water surrounded by steep cliffs.
Porto Koufo, Halkidiki, Greece
Porto Koufo at the south-western tip of the Sithonia peninsula was an unexpected haven. The beautiful clear and warm sea has a 2km-long sandy fringe. It’s also almost deserted, with just a small village with a few tavernas at the northern end.
Cabo Polonio, Uruguay
When in Uruguay, forget flashy Punta del Este and head north-east to the more authentic resort of Cabo Polonio in the department of Rocha. A 4WD is necessary to reach the tiny peninsula village where a long, sandy beach awaits, and it’s perfect for windsurfers on one side and swimmers on the other. The charm lies in the lack of development: holiday bungalows are lit at night with candles.
You can’t get much remoter than South West Bay on the small mountainous Colombian island of Providencia. We flew from Bogotá via San Andreas on a light aircraft with 10 people and one dog. We stayed at the Sirius Hotel on a long, white sandy beach. We had the four sunbeds to ourselves and our lazy days involved reading, watching the fishing and scuba diving boats go in and out and swimming in the warm turquoise sea. There was no internet or mobile phone access, and at the one local restaurant we feasted on cheap fresh fish including lobster, creole prawns and ceviche.
Cedar Key, Florida
Cedar Key, off Florida’s north-west central coast, is a gem itself. The splotches of land, some muddy, some sandy, spread like a cast net. The local clam chowder was the best in the world for several years. Stay at the Faraway Inn (from $90 a night), where a fleet of kayaks is yours to use. About an hour before sunset kayak directly south from the inn for about a half a mile, ideally in late fall, to Cedar Keys national wildlife refuge. It’s a refuge in all senses of the word. There’s a boardwalk, but around every corner is a secluded section of beach.
Carlos Rosario, Culebra, Puerto Rico
Carlos Rosario is a remote beach on the island of Culebra off Puerto Rico, naturally sheltered from wind and waves. It’s a hike to get to and not too many people know about it. An extensive and expansive pristine coral reef begins on the right side of the beach and is incredible for snorkelling: crystal clear water and brimming with coral, tropical fish, turtles, and more. On the west side of the Flamenco Beach parking lot, you’ll see a large gate, chained but left open enough for pedestrians. Enter the trail and follow it to the end. There is one fork in the trail, marked left for another secluded beach called Tamarindo, or straight ahead for Carlos Rosario. The trail is moderately challenging, definitely not for bare feet. It has rocks and the occasional iguana. Once you arrive in Carlos Rosario, you’ll know it was worth it.
Pandan Island, off Mindoro Island, the Philippines
Off the west coast of Mindoro, North Pandan island is a short boat ride across the warm waters of the strait. White sand beaches are easy to find in this part of the world, but what makes this place special is the turtles. Use snorkelling gear from the only place on the tiny island and within minutes you’ll get a glimpse of turtles gliding along the sea floor, munching sea grass. Should snorkelling not be your thing, find a hammock in the shade, or sit in the shallow water.
‘Secret beach’ near Mirissa, Sri Lanka
Many tourists who visit the long, beautiful Mirissa beach do not know of the “secret beach” just round the headland. Many Sri Lankans don’t know about it either. Only reachable by short, bumpy tuk-tuk ride with a driver in the know, it is a small patch of pure calm and isolation. Once you’ve tumbled your way down the rocky track, you’ll find a few locals in the shade of the nearby beach shack restaurant, the odd family splashing in the waves, a couple of backpackers, but few other people. There’s small cove with white sand on one side, and a longer stretch of beach on the other leading to the headland and Mirissa. Coconut and mangrove trees offer welcome relief from the sun, as does a cold beer from the beach shack.