Often in summer our dreams of chilled beach days are hit by the reality of sweaty searches for parking, crowded sands, and obnoxious beach neighbors. Avoid all that by slipping away to places under the mainstream tourist radar. Choose one of these underrated areas for a laid-back beach time before the summer ends.
Ibiza takes all the glory away from this tiny island but that’s good news if you’re looking for some of the best (and quietest) beaches in Europe. A swift 35 minute ferry takes you away from the party crowds to relax on the smallest of the Balearic Isles. Rent a motorbike to beach hop to unspoiled coves with white sand and that special Mediterranean turquoise clear sea. Snorkeling, swimming, and lazing around are the top activities here but there are also charming white washed villages to wander around when you’re done at the beach.
Blame Mama Mia but Turkey is often ignored in favor of Greece for beach holidays in Europe. Yet Turkey’s many eastern coast beaches share the same Aegean waters as the Greek Islands. The Bodrum Peninsula in particular has many amazing beaches, and whilst it's hardly undiscovered there are still lots of quiet coves to explore. Another plus here is the food- freshly grilled meat and fish, stuffed vine leaves, delicious salads, and handfuls of herbs add up to a hearty but surprisingly healthy Mediterranean diet.
Think of Scotland and you are probably picturing craggy mountains and freezing cold lochs rather than white sand and palm trees. But thanks to a little phenomenon called the Gulf Stream that’s exactly what you can find in the north of this beautiful country. Whilst the beaches may look like the Bahamas there is no guarantee of consistent hot weather, but you will find tranquility, natural beauty and if you’re lucky, some Scottish summer sun.
Famed for its national parks and safaris Kenya’s coastline is often overlooked, but its position near the equator means it shares a similarly tropical vibe to Bali or northern Brazil. Diani Beach is just 30 minutes from Mombasa and has the quintessential powdery white sand and azure waters of a dream beach, just add monkeys scampering through the nearby jungle. This is the Indian ocean and it is warm and full of life, with protected coral reefs providing habitats for marine wildlife. It's not all flat ocean and sun loungers though- there are plenty of surf beaches here too, and local guides willing to show you the best spots.
Another overlooked Mediterranean island, Malta sits between Sicily and the north African coast. Its strategic position means its had a lot of different rulers over the years, leaving behind impressive historic monuments, and beautiful architecture, with cities that date back 7000 years. There are three islands to choose from; mainland Malta, Gozo, and tiny Comino and any kind of beach you could want- from secluded rocky inlets for snorkeling to huge sandy bays with all the facilities you need. If you are into diving there are some amazing caves and war-era wrecks to explore.
When tourists in India want beach time they usually head to Goa, famed for its palm tree-lined beaches, yoga retreats, and trance parties. Just down the coast you’ll find Kerala which still has a lot of deserted, undiscovered beaches in between its coconut groves. There are yoga classes and Ayurvedic treatments to be had if you want them but the pace here is more chilled and traditional. Secluded Marari beach is a good bet if you’d also like to do a houseboat trip through the backwaters, a must in Kerala.
Capetown’s popularity often eclipses Durban and not many visitors to South Africa make it to this vibrant city. But they are missing out on a unique surfing town with golden beaches and a strong Zulu influence, the dominant culture of the region. The water here is the warm Indian Ocean and the beaches are unspoiled and charming. Hire a car and discover nature reserves, some of the worlds best diving, rolling fields and charming rural villages.
Albania is another bypassed Mediterranean gem that is far cheaper to visit than Croatia or Greece. The Albanian Riviera is a stretch of beautiful coast with picture perfect villages nestled in isolated bays and golden beaches lapped by the bluest of blue waters. Four star hotels can cost as little as $60 a night and fresh seafood is cheap and abundant, and the area is free from cruise ship crowds and busloads of tourists. Dhermi beach is a strip of white rock and turquoise sea that gets busy in August but has many little coves and inlets so you can always find a peaceful spot.