Trekking to the southernmost and the smallest of four Balearic Islands off Spain’s Mediterranean coast, divers, snorkelers, and beach enthusiasts looking for calm sands and crystal-clear waters. Just half an hour away from the scene of life in the neighboring region of Ibiza by regular ferry, Formentera is not all Ibiza.
The best beach, with fine sand and white sand, plenty of room, and turquoise water that reminds the Caribbean, is Platja de Ses Illetes streets from the Savina to Espalmador. The waters are warm and peaceful and the beach is sloping with long fainting so that children can pick.
Snorkelers can try the longest beach on the Island, the Playa Migjorn, when you can rent parasols and loungers, even during the season. One of the best beaches in the tiny bay of Cala Saona, not even 150 metres long, but this is not too small to be easily reached with food and cool drinks.
Tauchen is superb, with a view of up to 45 metres and a steep shore with submarine caves and cliffs. Feathery fans of the sea and the best seagrass ‘lands’ of the Mediterranean form an optimal ecosystem for a variety of marine lives.
The sunken boat wreck of the Florin Brothers lies on a wall of seafood filled with fish at less than 30 metres depth from Punta Pedrera. The Es Freus Ses Salines Nature Park, covering a lot of northern Formentera and the coastal marshes of which are protected by more than 200 species of birds, including herons and flamingos, is the main region.
Playa Blanca, Lanzarote
The spectacular volcanic landscape of Lanzarote is less well-known than the large Canary Islands, and far from the lush tropical greens of neighbouring Tenerife and Gran Canaria. The golden sands on the south shore of Playa Blanca are surrounded with high peaks and calming winds in summer.
A 20-minute ride on a ferry, Fuerteventura’s long white beaches are world-famous as some of the best surfing spots in Europe. But, since Lanzarote is such a fascinating place, you don’t want to sit on the beach.
Half-day trips from Playa Blanca carry you to the top of the Timanfaya volcano, where you can dine directly over the Vulcan Eruption, with chicken grilled. Tour the tortured landscape of lava swirls and caves, pick small green gems on the beach El Golfo or take a camel ride on the slopes of the volcano.
Playa Blanca is a peaceful resort, full of fun, restaurants and budget accommodation – most of them a short walk from the beach. The luxurious Princesa Yaiza Suite Hotel Resort has large palm-fringed swimming pools, in addition to its strip of golden sand.
Porto Santo, Madeira
Even if you would like a car to explore the island yourself, several day tours will take you to the highlights of the island. These include the excellent work of Spain’s artist/architect Cesar Manrique, whose imagination and talent have rescued Lanzarote from the destruction of unregulated mass tourism.
The unique scenery and amenities of the island he used to create wonderful tourist attractions: a stylish modern home within a lava bulb, a lava tubed pool, a restaurant and concert hall, and a stunning cactus garden in a quarry abandoned.
Porto Santo is maybe the greatest secret in Europe yet yet to be uncovered if you want to be well ahead of the curve. Close to 10 kilometres of large golden-sand beaches on the island of Madeira, which lies a short walk from mainland Portugal, in the Atlantic.
In addition to an international golf course extending from dunes and beaches on the one side to basalt cliffs, the house is famed to have been that of Christopher Columbus, married to Filipa Moniz, daughter of a local dignitary; it also contains hiking paths throughout the history of the rugged interior, fishing excursions and scuba diving and island claim to be the place in history.
Porto Santo primarily wants to get away in the low-class area of beach resorts such as Vila Baleira Resort Porto Santo, which offer comfortable accommodation with an indoor swimming pool and a thalassotherapy spa. A small mid-range hotel Quinta Do Serrado has a shuttle to take you to the beach in a secluded wooded setting, perfect for couples.
Brac Island, Croatia
Croatia is referred to as the “the New Riviera,” as the rest of the world has discovered its stunning beaches once a secret getaway for Europeans. There’s plenty to choose from, but Zlatni Rat in Bol on the Dalmatian island of Brac might be the most idyllic.
There is so much sand on the southern coast of Brac, at the foot of Vidova Gora Mountain that it is called Golden Cape. As winds drift over the fine beaches, the exact shape and size of this beach peninsula constantly varies but stretches about 500 metres. Portions of the beach typically have clothes optional; if you are interested, ask for the exact locations locally.
This spit of land is situated approximately two kilometres west of the town of Bol, with a harbour and hotels, apartments and restaurants. Ferries connect Brac on the mainland with Split, a beautiful coastal town and Stari Grad Island, just south of it.
The golden sand is hard to tear away, but little Bol provides a few low-key distractions. In a stunning Renaissance-Baroque building, Branislav Deškovic Gallery exhibits about 400 works of local artists. Tintoretto, the leading Italian painter in the Renaissance, is the Dominican monastery museum.