If you're dreaming about a summer holiday that involves sunshine, soft white sand and crystal clear water the good news is that you don't have to travel to the Caribbean this summer to find it. Europe is home to some beaches that rival those found in the Caribbean. Instead of trotting across the globe to find your little slice of heaven, why not visit one of Europe's most beautiful beaches?
Navagio Beach, Greece
Caribbean-blue water at Navagio Beach, Greece © Graham Mcallister
Navagio Beach is without a doubt one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. Clear turquoise water laps at the white sand of this secluded little cove that is located on the Greek island of Zakynthos. The beach is also known as Shipwreck Bay, thanks to the rusted wreck that lies on the sand. Navagio Beach is surrounded by rugged cliffs and is only accessible by boats that leave from Port Vromi. You can swim, snorkel, or just laze on the soft white sand. It can get pretty crowded in the peak season, but for the rest of the year it's a quiet, secluded little haven. Who would want to visit the Caribbean when you have beach like Navagio right on your doorstep?
Cala Luna, Italy
The caves at Cala Luna © Vasile Cotovanu
The Italian island of Sardinia is home to some of the most spectacular beaches in Europe, and one of those is Cala Luna. This gorgeous secluded beach is located on the north western coast of the island, near Dorgali. The crescent shaped beach overlooks the Gulf of Orosei, and the clear water is warm, making it ideal for those who enjoy snorkelling or scuba diving. There are also small caves in the cliffs that surrounded this secluded cove. To reach Cala Luna, you have to take a strenuous hike from Cala Gonone, Cala Fuili or Balnei. If you're travelling with kids you may prefer to reach Cala Luna by boat. Boats leave from Cala Gonone port, or Marina di Orosei.
Porto Katsiki, Greece
Snorkeling in the crystal clear water of Porto Katsiki © Niccolo Rigacci
Porto Katsiki is located on the south western coast of the Greek island of Lefkada and is one of the most famous beaches in Greece. Bright blue waters lap at the fine white sand of the crescent beach which is sheltered by rugged cliffs. The shallow, clam waters are ideal for swimming and snorkelling, and it's popular with families, although you'll need to walk down 347 steps to reach the beach. Another option is to reach Porto Katsiki by taxi boats which leave from Nydri or Vasiliki. There are several restaurants, bars and shops at Porto Katsiki, so you can spend the entire day soaking up the sun on this Greek beauty and end off the day watching the sunset from a restaurant on the cliffs.
Porthcurno - one of the UK's most beautiful beaches © Jim Champion
Don't worry, your eyes are not failing you! There really is a beach in the UK that ranks with the best in Europe. Located in Cornwall, Porthcurno beach is enclosed on either side by cliffs, creating a protected bay of fine sand and turquoise waters that glint in the sunshine. This is as close as Britian gets to beach paradise. The beach is great for swimming because the water is shallow, although there is a very steep shelf not far out so it's not really ideal for small children. It's also popular with bodyboarders thanks to impressive swells. If you're looking for a place to stay, you can check out HomeAway's Cornwall holiday cottages here.
Zlatni Rat, Croatia
Zlatni Rat - Croatia's Golden Horn © Szabolcs Emich
Croatia's long coastline and numerous islands are home to some of the most outstanding beaches. Zlatni Rat is located on the island of Brač, near Bol. Known as Golden Horn, this unique beach changes its shape and position, depending on the direction of the wind and the currents. It may not be a sandy beach like those you'd find in the Caribbean, but this V-shaped white pebble beach is still spectacular and a popular choice for tourists visiting Croatia. The western end of the beach is reserved for nudists. The winds make it ideal for sports like wind surfing, kite surfing and sailing. The beach is easily accessible, thanks to a 2km cycling and pedestrian route that leads to the beach from Bol.
Caló des Moro, Spain
Caló des Moro in Majorca © Hans Hillewaert
On the Spanish island of Majorca you'll find dozens of small, secluded beaches. One of the most beautiful of these is Caló des Moro, located 6km from the town of Santanyi. When you're lying on the soft white sand that gently slopes into the shallow, turquoise water you'll be forgiven for thinking you're on a beach in the Caribbean. The clear water is ideal for water sports like diving and snorkelling. During the peak season the small beach is packed with tourists, but for the rest of the year Caló des Moro is a quiet little slice of the Caribbean in Spain. Although the beach is surrounded by steep cliffs, it's easily accessible.
Cala Mariolu, Italy
Beautiful Cala Mariolu in Sardinia © Vasile Cotovanu
Another beautiful Sardinian beach that rivals the most beautiful beaches in the world is Cala Mariolu, which situated near Baunei, overlooking the Gulf of Orosei. The beautiful beach is lined with small pink pebbles and the water is a spectacular shade of blue. The water is calm and shallow, which makes it ideal for families with small children. Although it can be reached on foot, the trek is strenuous, so if you do have children a better option is to take one of the boats that leave from Cala Gonon, Arbatax or Santa Maria Navarrese.
Myrtos Beach, Greece
Myrtos Beach on the island of Kefalonia © Matlock-Photo
Vying for the top spot as Greek's best beach is Myrtos Beach, located on the northwest coast of the Ionian island of Kefalonia. The mile-and-a-half long beach lies between the steep limestone cliffs of Agia Dynati and Kalon Oros . As you move towards the turquoise water the large stones turn to smaller pebbles until you reach the water where you'll find fine white sand. The beach is not ideal for small children, as the current is strong and not far out there is a sudden drop. You can reach the beach by following a steep, winding road that leads down to the beach from the village of Divarata. There is also a public bus service that runs to Myrtos Beach during the summer months.
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