SPECIAL REPORT: With summertime now in full stride, UK-based Beach Tomato has announced its list of favorite European beaches. Check out its expert picks for the best southernly stretches of sand around:
1. Cala Boix, Ibiza
On the sleepy side of the Balearic island, just outside the typically Ibizan whitewashed village of San Carlos is a little known black-sanded beach popular with local families and off-the-clock DJs seeking respite from the thud thud thud of Ibiza’s glamorous beach clubs. Pack a picnic and that book you’ve been meaning to read since Christmas. Then, at sundown, hop a couple of beaches over to dine at the waterfront beach shack El Bigote. The seafood supper (think fresh daily catches) served here is an island institution.
2. River Cèze near Montclus, France
Not a beach in the salty sense, but by all means a very beautiful freshwater alternative; the sandy shores of the meandering green waters of the River Cèze, just northwest of Marseille, have the edge when it comes to secluded swims to cool off after an afternoon in France's hot southern sun. Bask on the smooth shores shrouded by towering rock faces and bathe in crystal clear water, before hopping back in to town for a sundown Lillet.
3. Patara Beach, near Kas, Turkey
Turkey is the classic European favorite for anyone seeking sunshine in the dog days of summer. Avoid the rows of parasols that clog up the beaches around Marmaris and head instead south of Fethiye, to Patara. This is the longest beach in the whole of the Med (a grand total of nine miles) and comes with a back-drop of ancient ruins and undulating dunes. There’s just one small café at one end to pick up a cool mid-afternoon beer, and there isn’t a jet-ski in sight.
4. Stiniva Beach, Vis Island, Croatia
If Hvar was the golden girl of 2010, Vis is the Dalmatian island (rightfully) garnering our attention in 2011. Vis is locally referred to as the wine island for its excellent harvest and ideal viticulture-cultivating climate. But, away from the hillsides this relatively undeveloped island has blue sunlight dappled bays by shabby-chic stone villages. Our favorite, the smooth pebbly, Stiniva Beach, on the south coast hides away down a steep path. Spend a day bathing in the cool Adriatic waters between two sheltering limestone cliffs.
5. Praia a Mare, Calabria, Italy
Calabria first caught our eye when it became impossible to move on the Amalfi coast. And the glamour of Liguria, this is not, but beaches and Klein-blue sea it is. Walk along the two-kilometre shore of Praia a Mare, plant your towel and decide strike up the energy to paddle across to Isola di Dino when the sun is highest in the sky. This 65-metre high island conceals an elaborate maze of sea caves wallpapered with stalagmites. But it’s the iridescent sapphire waters swelling below that steal the show.