Maybe we are spoiled. We are running this website out of tropical Singapore, which means year-round warm temperatures at home anyway, but also countless fantastic South-east Asian travel destinations just a weekend trip away. Whether we want to jet off to Bali or Phuket, to Bangkok or Hong Kong, it is often a matter of conveniently flying off on a budget airline after work on a Friday and returning late on a Sunday.
The only downside to this is that we are not the only one doing this! You can fly to Krabi or Nha Trang, but then in many places you will still spend your weekend packed like sardines on a beach, next to your neighbours back home. Long story short, sometimes you want to head off to a place with palm trees and white sand beaches but at the same time get away from the crowds as well. If that's what you are after, we have some suggestions for you (that are not just located in Asia, of course). For even more inspiration just use our Destination Search.
The first destination is an island well off the coast of Brazil in South America called Fernando de Noronha. This is a renowned eco travel destination that might just be one of the most pretty spots to visit in Brazil. But as it is pretty out of the way, the (domestic and foreign) crowds don't seem to have quite discovered it. So go here, enjoy some hiking into the rocky jungle covered interior, or enjoy the water and go swimming, surfing or diving. Take note that accomodation here is basic at best, but then that's the whole point isn't it?
Bohey Dulang is one of the islands the forms part of the Tun Sakaran Marine Park in Sabah of Malaysia. You will need to travel to Semporna and spend the night there, then make your way here by boat. The main sight is the volcanic crater that is under water and which you get spectacular views over after you have made the effort of climbing your way up through the thick jungle... Once you find your way down again you can go swimming or snorkeling although you won't find any real beaches. But then again you won't find many people either!
Everybody knows Bora Bora. Nobody knows Moorea (which lies 240 kilometer or 150 miles to its south-east, right next to Tahiti). This island is sometimes described as a more authentic alternative to Bora Bora. There is certainly accomodation here that is far from basic (looking at you Hilton and Intercontinental), but the crowds are by any definition less thick too. The interior is covered with mountains and lush rain forest, while the beaches are nothing less than dreamy.
This place in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is not really a household name. Yet, as sooner or later tourists will start discovering it right? Part of India but with a vibe that is more comparable to Thailand, white sand beaches that are likened to the Maldives and fantastic scenery both around the beaches and inland. Best of all? It is cheaper and much, much quieter. For now.
And finally, back to the Caribbean. Carriacou is an island of the Grenadines island chain that is part of Grenada. Travel to the main island of Grenada and you will have no trouble finding golf courses and luxury resorts, but travel to Carriacou and you will find a quieter and much more back-to-basics kind of place.
Of course, sometimes you go on a beach holiday to do nothing else than to kick back in the sand and salty water, perhaps sip a cocktail or two but generally do absolutely nothing of any use whatsoever with your time. We completely understand the need to switch off.
Having said that however, we reckon there are also times that you want to head to a beach destination yet stimulate your mind as well. Perhaps that is by exploring big cities or small towns with architectural gems, by checking out a museum here or there, exploring castles, palaces, temples or whatever else floats your boat. Allow us to introduce 11 travel destinations (in no particular order) to you that are perfectly fit for those looking to undertake a cultured beach holiday.
The beaches in Cape Town are claimed to be some of the best in the world. The water may not be the warmest here, but beaches like Camps Bay or Clifton with their white sands are exactly how we like them. And the scenery obviously doesn't hurt either. Being the second biggest city in South Africa and having an extensive European heritage ensures that there is enough to see and explore when you're not lazing away on the beach. Main sights include the Castle of Good Hope and St. Georges Cathedral.
Where yo dou even start with a city like Barcelona? 2000 years of history, Gaudi and his Sagrada Família, the old town, on the cultural front you are assured not to be bored here. And the beaches? Well, seeing as that it was named the number one beach city in the world by National Geographic, you're spoilt for choice, really. Pick the busier beaches near the town center or head further out if you prefer things a bit more quiet.
Tulum, pretty as it may be, in fact only has two attractions of quite a narrow scope. On the one hand there is the extremely pretty Mayan fortress ruin of the Castillo perched on top of some rocks next to the sea, and on the other hand there is the turquoise sea and its breathtakingly beautiful beaches. So I guess you're going to have to find a way to combine the two, don't you?
Predictable you say? Fair enough, but Bali simply couldn't be excluded from this list. Think about it, the gorgeous beaches of Kuta, Nusa Dua and Sanur, or the black sand beaches of Lovina up north. And all that in combination with temples, rice paddies, Balinese culture and other fantastic scenery... We think everyone should travel here at least once in their lives. There is almost no better place in the world to combine beaches with cultural explorations.
Salvador lies in between Rio and Recife. If you know how good the beaches in either of those are, you have a pretty good idea of how those in Salvador look. In our review we used the word "mesmerising" to describe them. But it wouldn't be on this list if it didn't have some seriously impressive cultural offerings too. Just head up to the Cidade Alta (old town), pass the neoclassical Palacio Rio Branco Salvador and explore the other sights.
Penang offers visitors a colorful mix of colonial and historical sights and neighbourhoods, temples, mosques night markets and great beaches. Batu Feringghi is a picture perfect beach near the capital city of Georgetown, but if you have more time then by all means venture further out as there are some hidden gems here.
Crete may be mostly known for its beaches, but thousands of years ago this was also home of the first European civilization, the Minoans. Plenty of monasteries, picturesque towns and the main sight of the Palace of Knossos are just some examples of what is on offer here. And the beaches? Well, the coastline is dramatic and long so there's something for everyone. Up north you find the more developed spots, whereas if you look south you may find some much more quiet beaches.
Well, if that picture doesn't look inviting then I don't know I am sure what does. Zanbzibar is an island archipelago off Tanzania in East Africa. It is home to 30 beaches that are as perfect as it gets: white sand, palm trees, the deep blue ocean, you get the idea. Culturally, there is the Moorish, Persian, Indian, African and European architecture of Zanzibar City which was pronounced a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
With its Opera House, pretty Sydney Harbour and loads of excellent museums, Sydney is a class city with plenty to see and do. And for the beaches, well... does Bondi, Manly or Bronte really not ring a bell at all? In that case you've been missing out. Surfing is a way of life here.
As we argued in our review, San Diego tends to get overlooked by California's cities further up north, and we think that makes no sense. San Diego is laid back, has great beaches (the very wide and long Mission Beach offers not only a great beach but also plenty of activities and nightlife), and on the cultural front can compete with the best. Of particular interest there is Balboa Park with its 15 museums. Or else go check out the old town or La Jolla.
Of course we realise that it looks a bit odd to have a list of 11, instead of 10 or 15. But well, we had to make sure to include Sintra here. This Portuguese city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site home to the famous Castle of the Moors which resembles the Great Wall of China and Palácio da Pena. And while it may be situated on a hill amidst the plains, just a few minutes from here you'll be at the beach. And when it comes to those, too, Sintra has quite a bit to offer.
At times we at Travel Indicator like to work our way through our own database to see what kind of suggestions we are actually serving up to our users. Today we looked at the best family-oriented beach destinations by searching for any and all destinations that score at least 60% on both the "family-friendly" and "beach and seaside" attribute.
So what exactly are family-friendly beach getaways? Well, perhaps that is best answered by explaining what we have classified as non-family friendly beach destinations. Party hotspots for the teenage crowds, honeymoon resorts, big cities in underdeveloped countries that happen to have beaches, etcetera. These are definitely not what we want to look at today. What does show up are 92 locations, of which we reckon the following are the best:
It is no secret that the French know how to do beach holidays with the family well in Metropolitan France. That is just one of the many things this French overseas territory has taken from it. What we wrote before: "Nouméa has a chic and cosmopolitan feel to it. That is probably partly to do with its French background as well as how it is situated: it lies in between beautiful bays and is overseen by mountain ranges. Another thing that should come as no surprise is that the restaurants and food here is generally of a high quality."
Auckland in New Zealand may be one of the most versatile cities in the world. As we wrote before: "The city offers a combination of scenic natural playgrounds in all shapes and forms (turquoise waters, beach islands, volcanoes, rainforests..) outside of the city, and multicultural big city sophistication inside of its boundaries. Add a sunny climate added into the mix and this is basically the perfect holiday destination."
Aruba is not your typical Caribbean island as its landscape has some desert like characteristics. That creates some very interesting sights including goats, iguanas and donkeys. At the coast you will find limestone cliffs and white sand beaches. The children can play in the water will mum and dad sip on a cocktail, what's not to like?
Bintan is where Singaporean families head for a quick weekend break away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Most will head to the north side of the island where you have resorts like Club Med catering to your every need. The rest of the island is more back to basics. If you head to one of the resorts, we guarantee your kids will be entertained by the vast amount of activities organised for them.
Mar del Plata is where the residents of Buenos Aires head in summer to spend time with their families at the beach. The Playa Grande is the most family friendly of them all, though be warned that it gets extremely full in summer!
Sometimes, when picking a summer beach destination in Europe, you need to look at where the package deal crowds are going, and then head in exactly the opposite direction. Greek island tend to be quite similar in terms of natural beauty and cultural backdrop, but a beach holiday between mostly Greeks and mostly northern European crowds leads to two different experiences entirely! Skopelos is popular with Greek families, and that says enough. Besides beaches, the island offers pine forests, high cliffs and many churches and monasteries to explore. This is an excellent place to take your family.
If you want to party the night away after hitting the beach, you would be better off heading to a place like Rimini. Viareggio is a more upscale and family-friendly kind of place. The beaches are long and of good quality, and behind them runs the promenade where you and the family can grab a bite to eat or have a drink after a long day of baking in the sun. Next to town lies a forest where you can go biking or hiking.
This is one of our personal favorites and a bit of a hidden treasure (unless you ask coast-bound Dutch and German people in the know!). Domburg lies in the southern Zeeland province of the Netherlands, and at about 2 hours from Schiphol airport. It is a charming old resort town that attracts families, with beaches that must be some of the best in this part of Europe. On a warm summer day, trust us, you wouldn't want to be any other place. As we wrote before: "Expect fine sand, good swimming conditions and clean beaches. The town itself - though very small with about 1500 inhabitants - has good bakeries, café's and restaurants aplenty. (...) Smaller towns around like Oost- and Westkapelle or Veere also offer some interesting sights and places to eat or drink. If you are feeling particularly Dutch, make your way to some of the other towns by bike."
Myrtle Beach offers a beach holiday in the American way. The beaches are the obvious place to spend time at, but there is also a place called Broadway at the Beach, an enormous entertainment venue where you will find everything ranging from bars, shops, restaurants to water parks. You and your entire family will be entertained here.
For Greek holiday islands, Crete is pretty much what they all aspire to be. Sun, sea and great beaches are a given, but the amount of fantastic nature (steep and rugged mountain areas, gorges and a very diverse flora and fauna plus scenery that includes olive groves and vineyards) and culture on show make this an unforgettable place to take your family. Some days, mum and dad may want to head out to explore an archaeological site, while the kids play in the water at the beach. In the evening you can all meet up for a great meal.