Five of the Best Stretches of Sand our Little Planet has on its Menu
As pleasant a land as the UK is, few would disagree that it’s lacking somewhat on the paradise beach front, so it’s little surprise backpackers from our isles flock to arcs of golden sand in faraway lands as quick as their flip flops will take them. Here are five of the best.
Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia
Bondi is here, proudly representing the world’s ‘super beaches’. Don’t complain that you don’t see Copacobana, Cape Town, Ipanema, Venice Beach etc in here; we’ve gone for variety over reputation and sheer weight of Speedos. Bondi wins just because of its importance to the gap year thing. Get yourself down there on Christmas day and party with tens of thousands of other backpackers. Stick a turkey on the barbie, crack open a stubbie and have a ball.
Bondi is great all year round of course; somehow chilled and vibrant at the same time. Not a great spot for learning to surf as it gets a bit crowded, but overall a bit of a beach icon.
There are plenty of hostels in the Bondi area, but if you’re coming from central Sydney, either take the bus from Circular Quay (380, 382 or L82), or take the train to Bondi Junction and a bus from there (they leave every 10 mins during the day and the alternative is a 2km walk in the blazing sun).
Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island, Australia
Sticking with Australia again, we’ve gone for Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsunday Islands for sheer take-your-breath-away eye-watering gorgeousness. It’s a bit of a looker. You can’t party here, the surf is rubbish and half the time you can’t even swim in the sea without a dorky neoprene stinger suit (thanks to jellyfish) but it really is one of the most perfect spots on the planet.
You get here from Airlie Beach, a small resort on the Queensland coast, north of Brisbane. Most people visit as part of a three-day live aboard sailing trip, but you can also take day sailing trips or high-speed options such as ‘Ocean Rafting’ or a fly-past in a bubble helicopter.
Maya Beach, Phi Phi Le, Thailand
This beach is ‘The Beach’ beach, which not only helps us break some kind of record for word repetition, but also kind of tells you everything you need to know about the place. It’s where Leo and crew filmed and now, like Whitehaven Beach, it’s a bit of a hub for day-trippers. Again, it’s all about the aesthetics rather than the excellent facilities and sea-front cuisine, but when you see those jungle-clad outcrops framing the crystal clear water and azure sky, you’ll know why you made the trip.
Koh Phi Phi is off the coast of Krabi province in Thailand. Although it was decimated by the Tsunami in 2004, the tourist industry is up and running again and your visit is appreciated. You can organise a boat to Phi Phi Don (the inhabited one of the two Phi Phi islands) from Krabi itself and sort out your trip to Phi Phi Le (a national park) from there. It’s Thailand, so it’s all cheaper than chips.
The Skeleton Coast, Namibia
Okay, so maybe not really a beach as we’d usually understand it, but it is where sand meets sea, so the basic boxes are ticked. What the Skeleton coast has to offer beyond gaudy beach towels and sand in your crack are some weird and wonderful sights and a good measure of inaccessible, inhospitable difficulty.
There’s a vast colony of cape fur seals, lions, rhinos, giraffe, elephants, huge shifting sand dunes and a number of ghostly, desolate ship wrecks. It’s not Blackpool, there aren’t any donkey rides and you couldn’t really bring your Nan here for a nice day out, but you’ve got to admit, it’s a beach that you’ll remember…
It’s not easy to get to, as it’s a conservation area, so your best bet is to join an overland tour, or book a safari from Swakopmund (Namibia’s second largest town and the centre for its adventure industry).
Muri Beach, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Your stereotypical, perfect, paradise island beach. Probably not quite Whitehaven Beach in terms of sheer beauty, but it is at least a proper beach where you can lounge all day, drink cocktails and wander unsteadily to the bar when the sun goes down.
The Cook Islands are miles from anywhere in the middle of the South Pacific, so you’ll probably only go here as part of a round the world trip. There are backpacker lodges nearby and Muri is the largest, most obvious beach on the island. You’ll find it, don’t worry.