I must, no, I have to preface this post by emphasizing the fact that these seaside communities surprised me. Those who are familiar with the cities will not be surprised to learn that they are indeed great beachy destinations, but it’s a fact many people (including myself) may not fully realize. So with that massive caveat here are some great places around the world to change into your swimsuit and get a much needed tan.
1. Tel Aviv, Israel – As an outsider, the first thing I think of when someone mentions Israel is not a beach. I learned the error of my ways when I first touched down in Tel Aviv. Situated on the warm waters of the Mediterranean, Tel Aviv doesn’t just have a nice seaside promenade, it’s an important part of the city. The massive beach seems to extends forever and attracts millions of people every year who all need a little fun in the sun. For those who don’t want to body board, there’s also a six mile long promenade that leads all the way to nearby Jaffa. One of my favorite travel moments was taking this walk as the sun set behind me, one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. Be sure to have some cash on you when you visit the beach though, chairs and other accouterments must be rented for the day.
2. Mölle, Sweden – In near complete contrast to Tel Aviv, Mölle on Sweden’s famous West Coast is not your standard summertime retreat. Everything is relative, and in Sweden summer is short but sweet. But that doesn’t keep thousands of Swedes from flocking to picturesque seaside communities for the season, including Mölle. While there’s not a sandy beach per se, the harbor is easily accessible and boating is a popular pastime. But to be a great seaside community you don’t have to have a stellar beach. Instead locals head to nearby Kullaberg Nature Reserve. Kullaberg is great not just from a nature lover’s point of view (incredible biodiversity) but it’s also one of the best adventure sports venues in Sweden. In and around Kullaberg you can do everything from hike, mountain bike, abseil, spelunk, snorkel and scuba dive. No matter what you decide to do, there’s no doubt this is a classic beach town but in a more reserved way.
3. St. Kilda, Australia – Everyone knows (or they should) about Sydney’s beaches, but many forget that Melbourne, Australia enjoys a prime water position as well. While there are many places in and around Melbourne to catch some rays, my personal favorite is St. Kilda. Located just six kilometers from downtown Melbourne, St. Kilda was a getaway for the rich and powerful in the early 20th century. Like many other bedroom communities, it fell into disfavor and went through many changes until coming back into fashion today. Now Melbournians and tourists alike flock to the coastal community for the beach, amusement park and to just enjoy amazing evenings along the water.
4. Durban, South Africa – I think I put the caveat in the beginning of this post with Durban in mind. South Africans know Durban as a beach playground, but I daresay that many of us not from South Africa may have never heard of the city before. Originally a port city, Durban’s location in the hot and humid south has given it a reputation for a prime beach escape. The town itself reminds me of many of the beach communities in Florida; hotels and restaurants lining the coastline and thousands of people roaming the streets looking for a brief break from daily life. But Durban has a lot more to offer than many other seaside communities and visitors can enjoy everything from adventure sports to fine dining. But at its heart it is still absolutely a beach town, so be sure to visit the massive sandy beaches for a great escape from cold weather.
5. Cadaqués, Spain – Beach communities usually inspire people to relax and spend more time with their families, but Cadaqués in the Costa Brava has a history of inspiring great artists, the most notable of which is Salvador Dali. Dali lived nearby and spent many summers walking the white washed streets of this classic Mediterranean town. My favorite thing to do isn’t in Cadaqués proper, instead it’s in nearby Port Lligat: Dali’s House and Museum. Dali’s brilliance, flamboyance and eccentricities are on full display inside this most unusual home. Michelin man installations, chairs made to look like giant lips and much more are just some of the many reasons to make this a must visit site.
What are some great beach destinations you’ve been surprised to find?