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Sustainable Backpacking on a Budget – What You Need to Know

Backpacker sitting on beach

Guest post by Richard Meadow

Sustainable Backpacking

Backpacking can be a liberating and exhilarating experience, allowing you to explore the world with nothing but the bare essentials carried on your back. This freeing, land-based way of travelling is a firm favourite with nature and animal lovers, and consequently, with those who try to live sustainably. So, how do you take your sustainable lifestyle onto the road? Here’s what you need to know about sustainable backpacking.

Choose Green Destinations

First thing’s first, where are you headed? If you’re planning to backpack around some of the world’s finest beach destinations, then you should visit those countries that are actively implementing sustainable and ethical tourism practices. From Fiji to Palau, there are plenty of countries that frequently top the charts when it comes to environmental protection, social welfare, and human rights. Take a look at the most ethical destinations for 2019 here and find out how to book a green hotel here.

Avoid Single-Use Plastics

Ditch single-use plastic straws and bottles and invest in reusable alternatives. You could bring bamboo utensils, a stainless steel straw and a metal water bottle in your backpack for emergencies where no eco-friendly options are available. Other than that, drink your coffee in the ceramic mugs at the café, eat your meals in the restaurant and bring a tote bag for groceries. 

And while you are at the beach, why not help local hotels by participating in beach cleaning.

Choose Land Travel Wherever Possible

Thai train sustainable backpacking

One of the biggest parts of living sustainably is minimising your carbon footprint and providing for yourself. In this sense, travelling on foot or by bicycle is recommended wherever possible. However, this isn’t always practical when you need to cross borders! Instead of air travel, research public transport options like trains and buses. In many countries, ride-sharing is a safe, cost-effective and eco-friendly way of travelling.

Skip Animal Tourism

Animal tourism is constantly falling out of favour. People no longer want to ride elephants for entertainment, they want to view them from afar with a reputable organisation that is conscious of its impact on the animals. Do some research before you set off to find the best companies to travel with if you want to see wildlife.

Pack Lightly

When you’re backpacking, it’s best to travel lightly anyway – after all, you’ve got to carry all that weight on your back! But just think, the extra weight will also mean that you need more fuel, which is eventually more harmful for the environment. Consider this when you’re loading up your backpack with 5 swimsuits, travel pillow and endless outfit options. Find more light travel packing tips here.

Dry Clothes and Towels Naturally

If you’re backpacking at the height of summer, no doubt it’s going to pretty hot wherever you are. So, take advantage of the weather and hang your clothes outside to dry instead of using the facilities. You could also handwash your clothes if you’ve got access to clean water.

Buy Handmade Souvenirs

homemade tribal souvenirs from Southeast Asia

Support the economy by purchasing handmade souvenirs by the locals. Often, they’re made using natural resources, so not only will you leave with a long-lasting souvenir, but you’re also buying an environmentally friendly product. The same goes for tours too! Make an effort to give your money to businesses that employ locals.

Keep Info on Your Mobile

travel info on phoneCut down on excessive use of paper by having e-tickets on your phone, as well as all your important travel documents. Do remember, because you’ll be keeping all information on your phone, you need to make sure it’s charged up at all time – so pack a travel adapter to take with you wherever you go.

It’s also worth downloading useful apps, finding restaurant deals, cheap travel choices and anything else that may help you on the trip is useful made into an app!

Recycle

If you’re big on sustainability, recycling should come naturally to you wherever you are. If you’ve not got the means to recycle nearby, then bring all your recycling with you in your tote bag until you find a place where you can dispose of it.

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About the Author

Richard Meadow Freelance writer/ BloggerRichard Meadow is a freelance writer that has spent 4 years travelling after University. He’s been all around the world and learnt a lot about different cultures compared to his home in the UK. He wants to share his knowledge with interested readers in a way that they could use the information for a practical use.

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If you are interested in sustainable backpacking, there are plenty of articles on sustainable travel here and a great essential guide to responsible travel here.

Cover photo by David Izquierdo, Unsplash.

Plastic-Free Beaches: An eco-travel update from Grenada

Beach Cleaning of plastic and debris

Guest post by Aaron Salyer, The Dharma Trails.

Grenada is truly a paradise

It’s a green, gem surrounded by stunning beaches and The Caribbean Sea. We’ve been lucky enough to spend some time here over the last couple of years and feel so blessed.

Unfortunately, though, there seems to be no escaping the dreaded plastic debris. We can’t help but feel the need to clean-up the beaches whenever possible.

Beaches Affected the Most

While the long, white, sandy beach of the tourist area stays relatively clean, many of the smaller, lesser known beaches are in dire need of help.

We beach-walk most days and see the reality of the situation. There seems to be a couple of areas which are affected the most, frequently calling for some beach cleaning :

  • Beaches with river mouths – some of the best beaches in Grenada (in our opinion) have shallow river mouth openings that you can cross on lower tides. We’ve noticed that these beaches also seem to be a hotspot for trash. It is likely that the debris is making its way down the river system and out into the sea, only to wash up on the beach.
  •  Beaches popular for parties – we love a good beach party as much as the next person. But we’ve noticed a few of the popular local beach hangout spots are becoming duping grounds for party waste. There’s often no bins in these remote areas so items are simply left on the ground.

What we’ve learnt from being here is that there is still a bit of disconnection between products, waste and environmental impact.

Grenada is by no means the worst. On a recent trip to Jamaica we were shocked by the sheer scale of plastic beach pollution found on the less touristy beaches. The same happened on a recent trip to Bali and we even noticed plastic beach pollution when back home in Australia.

What kind of trash is there?

So, what are we finding on our daily clean-ups? Well, it differs at the two different beach types:

  • Beaches with river mouths – on these beaches we find a lot of plastic bottles, bottle caps, straws, micro plastics from various sources
  • Beaches popular for parties – on these beaches there is a lot of takeaway containers, plastic cutlery, plastic bottles and plastic bags

What does the trash mean?

With so many plastic bottles, caps and straws at beaches with river mouths it is likely that there are inadequate waste disposal locations upstream and that bottles are making their way into the rivers.

At party locations it is obvious that people are bringing party supplies and leaving them when done.

What kind of volume do we collect?

We typically pick up anywhere from the equivalent of 4 to 10 shopping bags worth.

Usually, we bring our own reusable bags to collect the trash. Depending on the bin situation we will put the trash directly into the bin and keep our bags. If a bin is already overflowing or not properly contained, we will put the trash into old shopping bags (or ones that we find on the clean-up).

Grenada is in dire need of their own plastic recycling centre. This would be ideal for us to take the trash to directly.

Couple sitting among beach debris and plastic remains

Why does it matter?

Plastic is quickly suffocating the natural environment, especially the marine environment. We’ve noticed seabirds picking through the trash and know that micro-plastics are entering the ocean on a daily basis.

With micro-plastic being consumed by fish, it is likely that these plastics will later be consumed by local people. Micro plastics have already been found in human waste. What that means for human health, we’re still not sure.

What’s being done?

It’s not all bad news. We’ve noticed some positive impacts in the last couple of years (in terms of beach clean-ups):

  • At one of the main river entrance beaches that we walk/ do beach clean-ups on, they have recently added a few new bins at the beach entrance so that it can fit more trash in (and hopefully encourage more people to put their trash in once finished)
    • We even saw a local guy cleaning up this beach. He was being paid per bag of trash by the owner of the nearby property
  • There’s been a clean-up push by a couple of the local hotels and businesses:
    • True Blue Hotel in particular are greening up their practices. They organise beach cleans for their staff and willing guests, and have a recycling storage program on their site
    • Dive Grenada are running ocean clean-ups and take divers along busy reefs to clean up trash

What’s next for our Grenada Beach Clean Ups?

We will continue to do our beach clean-ups while we are staying on this beautiful island.

Through our platform we like to encourage others to take action towards cleaning up the environment (especially beaches and the marine ecosystem). We hope that Grenada, and many other places around the world can tighten up laws on single use plastic items and make reusable items the standard.

We are lucky enough to come from a state in Australia where the plastic bag has been banned. And we know from historical programs, such as a plastic bag tax, that this can significantly reduce the demand for single use plastic items.

As consumers become more active in their choices towards sustainable products, the demand will change. We need to demand change. No longer will plastic bottles washing up on these beautiful beaches be tolerated.

This all comes down to awareness. And what makes awareness? Connection through a universal medium. Like art.

Is Trash Art the New Pop Culture?

We’ve found that trash art is a great way to create a discussion in a relatable way. Last year (while on the island) we made a few trash art pieces that we used to promote and encourage others around the world to join us for a global beach clean. It worked. We had hundreds of people all over the world comment and send us their own images of beach clean ups and trash art projects.

We’ve recently teamed up with a local artist on the island who is making some incredible art sculptures out of recycled plastic waste all while ensuring plastic-free beaches.

There is a huge potential to integrate local communities and educational programs.

How to join a beach cleaning?

Anyone can do their own beach clean-up with a bag and preferably a pair of gloves. However, if you’d rather join a larger, organised beach cleaning there are some platforms you can use:

There are also great online incentives, like #take3forthesea. A social media platform that shares and encourages people to pick up 3 pieces of trash on their beach visit.

Beach clean-ups are a great activity to integrate into your vacations if you are wanting to become a more responsible eco traveller. Learn more about eco travel, or things to do in Grenada, here.

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About the Author

Aaron is one of the co-founders of The Dharma Trails, a platform for encouraging and celebrating eco travel and a sustainable lifestyle.

With a background in marine eco-tourism and coastal protection, his passion for the sea has taken him around the globe to find and enhance some of the world’s best beaches.

With eco travel guides and sustainable practice highlights, The Dharma Trails is hoping to help shape a greener future.

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Five Most Underrated Beach Destinations In The World

empty blue wooden chairs on beach

Guest post by Kylee Keith

Did you know that according to many scientists, beaches did not always exist – and will not always be around, for that matter? It could be that it is this ephemeral nature that resonates with human beings, who can barely get enough of the ocean’s expanse and the many stunning beaches around the world. An estimated 50% of all international tourists travel to coastal areas, according to a 2017 UN study on people and oceans. However, there are still many relatively unexplored, yet amazing beach destinations in the world. 

Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

The Galápagos of Ecuador is arguably best known for its endemic species, some of which were studied by Charles Darwin as he devised his theory on evolution. Less renown, albeit rather unjustifiably, are its majestic beaches. La Lobería beach in the San Cristobal is a perfect spot for surfers. There are many other amazing options for those who either cannot surf due to physical disabilities or do not prefer to try it out. The Post Office Bay beach, for example, is so-aptly named for being a “DIY post office” where tourists can post and pick letters and postcards for delivery to their respective destinations.

Three surfers and seals on Loveria Beach, Galapagos

Image credits: Descentralizado Municipal de San Cristóbal

Santiago, Cape Verde

Santiago is the biggest island in Cape Verde, and home to two lovely beaches: Praia Baixo and Praia de Gamboa. The Praia Baixo is a small beach that attracts locals and tourists interested in fishing. It is also notable for its preservation and protection of loggerhead sea turtles. The Praia de Gamboa offers a scenic view of downtown Praia, the capital city of Cape Verde. If you are in town around mid-May, you might have the chance to sample some of the local cultures thanks to the annual Gamboa Beach Festival, the biggest music festival in Cape Verde.

Praia Plage de Gamboa beach Santiago Cape Verde

Image credits: Ji-Elle

Sylt, Germany

Nicknamed in some quarters “the German Hamptons,” The Sylt Island is often described as being unique to the rest of the popular stereotypes about the European nation. On top of some of its distinctive monuments and culture, the long and stunning beaches of Sylt are perhaps its best quality. The Hornum and Sansibar beaches as well the Ellenbogen Nature Sanctuary are perfect for long (or short) walks by the waterside, partaking in a classic wining culture, and interacting with nature.

Sylt beach chairs Germany

Photo by Michael Kleinjohann

Marettimo Island, Italy

Simply put, the Marettimo Island in Italy is a lover’s paradise. Some of the beaches in Marettimo include the Spiaggia del Rotolo, the Scalo Vecchio, Scalo Nuovo as well as the stone and sand beach Praia di Nacchi. The extensive and mostly pristine turquoise waters make for a stunning view and are also perfect for swimming excursions. Overall, the village has an ancient and cultured look, which serves to further amplify its unique, remote feel in Sicily.

Photo by Josh Feiber

Surfer’s Paradise, Australia

A fully-fledged beach in its own independent right, Surfers Paradise is an iconic destination in the Gold Coast of Australia. Combining nature and architecture in a stunning amalgamation of beauty, it oozes a special kind of postcard-scenery. As the name suggests, its generally gentle year-round waves are perfect for surfers at different skill levels.

Surfer's Paradise night view

Photo by Srikant Sahoo

No shortage of beaches

With more than 70% of the globe covered by oceans, there is no shortage of beaches for you to visit around the world. You could cross the globe for an exotic experience, or simply drop by the beach nearest to your town. That way perhaps, mankind will have experienced all that this special phenomenon has to offer before it potentially vanishes from the face of the earth.

Cover image credits: Aaron Burden

Black Sand Beaches

icelandic black beach

The contrast between the white foam of lapping waves on a black sand beach is something special. It’s almost as if the world has turned into an old black and white movie. The spectacle is slightly gloomy, but in a fascinating and mystical way.

Why are some Beaches Black?

If you pick up a handful of sand, you will usually see a multitude of colors. Even sand that appears white can have both green, dark, pink, and orange grains amongst it. Black sand will most likely have a high concentration of black grains from either volcanic minerals or heavy minerals such as garnet, magnetite, and epidote. Black sand beaches are particularly common in areas near volcanoes such as Hawaii, Iceland, and the Canary Islands.

If you go to a black sand beach, be aware that the sand gets extra hot on sunny days, as the black color absorbs the heat.

Gallery of Black Sand Beaches

We hope you will enjoy this gallery of black sand beaches from around the world. We have included images from Iceland, the Canary Islands, Bali, Hawaii, and New Zealand.

Black sand beaches are not as common as those with white or light brown sand. You will not get the stunning turquoise and clear blue water from these beaches, and conditions for activities such as snorkeling and diving will be less optimum because of lower visibility. Instead, however, you often get a more rugged and dramatic setting with contrasting white foamy water on beautiful dark sand.

The images in this collage of black sand beaches have been provided by beachmeter.com and the following contributors (in no particular order): Naveen Raj Dhanapal (cover photo), Artem Bali,  Alice Karolina Smith,  Florian ZehJeremy BishopIan Stauffer, and Adrien Olichon provided by Unsplash, and Nikitabuida provided by Freepik.

Surfing New Zealand: A Wave Lover’s Guide

surfer taking a barrel wave in New Zealand

Guest post by Harper Reid

New Zealand has a thriving surf culture. The country’s diverse range of beautiful beaches attracts both tourists and locals who travel around the country in search of pumping waves. You never have to travel very far to spot a great surf beach in New Zealand.

new zealand surfer sitting on surfboard waiting for a wave

Photo credits: Tim Marshall

There are plenty of amazing places to surf in both the North Island and the South Island, which are suitable for varying levels of experience. Here are a few of the best surfing beaches you’ll find in New Zealand.

Muriwai Beach

Muriwai show with surfing waves and island in horizonPhoto credits: Tim Marshall

Muriwai is a hugely popular surf spot in Auckland, especially in the summer months. The rugged coastline stretches a total of 60 kilometres, offering an abundance of peaks for surfers. On days of huge swell, Muriwai is best left to more experienced surfers. The location is also well known for its gannet colony, which is worth the trip in itself.

Kahutara Beach

sunset surfing in new zealands Kahutara beach

Photo credits: Coastal Sports

Located just outside of Kaikoura in the South Island, Kahutara is a point break that produces great surf in most seasons except for summer. As the Hikurangi Trench is situated not too far offshore from the coast, the swells come straight out of the deep water, often producing hollow waves.

Colac Bay

Colac Bay of New Zealand

Photo credits: LAWA

Colac Bay is situated in the southern region of the South Island. The exposed beach break has perfect surf conditions almost all year round, but it’s best surfed with a northeasterly wind. The surf here is suitable for all abilities.

St Clair Beach

St Clair beach Dunedin New Zealand

Photo credits: Mattinbgn

St Clair beach is one of the most popular beaches in the South Island. It has good-quality beach breaks and frequently produces hollow waves. It’s also home to a great surf school. The best part is, it’s situated in the convenient location of Dunedin. If you’re in the South Island for a surf holiday, the best option is to hire a rental car upon your arrival at Queenstown airport.

Piha

Surfer riding wave at Piha New Zealand

Photo credits: Tim Marshall

Piha has built a reputation as one of the best surf beaches in New Zealand. It’s not far from central Auckland, so it’s nice and easy to get to. This black sand beach has consistently powerful breaks, making it a must for experienced surfers. As the rips can be pretty strong, beginners are usually advised to go out with an instructor.

Manu Bay

Surfers at Manu bay in New Zealand

Manu Bay in Raglan has become a world-famous surfing area. It first gained international attention after being featured in the 1966 movie, “Endless Summer.” You’ll find some of the most consistent and most accessible left-hand breaks here. Perfect waves allow for some of the longest cruises you’ll ever experience, and are also a great environment to learn and train under expert guidance if you’ve never surfed before. Apart from surfing, Raglan also offers opportunities for kayaking, hiking, and caving – making it the perfect place for an extended holiday.

Te Arai Point

Te Arai beach in New Zealand

Photo credits: Visit Wellsford

Te Arai Point is one of Auckland’s most beautiful beaches. Thanks to its consistent waves, the Point is a popular surf spot amongst locals. Along the beach, there are various peaks to choose from with both right and left-handers. This long stretch of beach is usually much less crowded than its neighbouring beaches like Pakiri and Mangawhai, so you can enjoy a peaceful surfing experience here.

Shipwreck Bay

Shipwreck Bay surfing spot in New Zealand's Ahipara

Photo credits: Pablo Garbarino

Shipwreck Bay is well known amongst NZ surfers for its long rides. You can almost guarantee excellent surf here on any given day. But on a really good day, you can sometimes enjoy a ride for as long as 3 minutes. Shipwreck Bay is located near the northern town of Ahipara, where there are a couple of great camping grounds, and some small B&Bs and budget lodges.

Surfing New Zealand Map

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The only thing Harper loves more than travel adventures is writing about them. In the past, she has collaborated with travel and hospitality sites such as Tanoa Dateline.

Discover more of Harper’s work on Tumblr.

Harper Reid

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Want to check out more surfing destinations? How about our Ghana beach guide presenting you with Ghana’s best surfing beaches. Stay tuned for more surfing guides.

Cover photo credits: Jeremy Bishop

Mallorca Beach Guide: Local Beaches and Hidden Coves

Calo Des More one of the best among Mallorca's beaces

Mallorca Beach Guide

Mallorca is one of the most legendary sun, sea, and sand destinations in the world. Not only a Spanish favourite, Majorca has consistently been a top holiday destination for Europeans for more than five decades. The draw? Well, we think it’s related to the turquoise waters and the rugged beach coves. Clever huh!?

MALLORCA, SPAIN
Area:
3,640 km² (1,405 sq. mi.)
Location: Balearic Islands, Mediterranean
Population: 870,000 Mallorcans
Language: Spanish
Capital: Palma
Highest Point: 1,445 m (4,741 ft.)
Weather: Temperate subtropical
Coastline: From rocky to sandy, long sandy beaches and small coves

While Mallorca has great options for shopping, eating, sleeping, cycling, and hiking, we will direct our focus on the beaches. Whether you want beaches with shower facilities, lifeguards, white sand, rocks, watersports, sunbeds, party vibes, shade, and/or goats (yes of course), Mallorca has it.

What it doesn’t have is a beach for you and only you. The island’s beaches, coves, and bays have already been discovered long ago.

Especially if you are visiting during the beach friendly months of May to October, the most accessible and impressive beaches will be rather packed with people. Don’t let that put you off; take in the lively scenes and enjoy it!

Mallorca’s Top Beaches

We thought (and explored) hard, and came up with the following categories for Mallorcan beaches to guide you on your beach quest:

Mallorca’s Most Adventurous Beach

Playa Coll Baix

Rocky trail to Mallorca beach Playa Coll Baix

This beach is not easy to get, unless you cheat and take a boat. Well, that’s okay too, but you would miss the feeling of accomplishment of getting there on foot. The hike to the beach takes around 45 minutes. The route is not always apparent, and it involves some zig-zagging down a slopy hillside and some crawling on the rocks before reaching there.

The bay is stunning, especially as you approach it from afar. The beach mostly consists of dark pebbles that tend to get rather warm in the baking sun, so it’s not one of the most comfortable beaches to play around on.

This beach is considered a “hidden beach” by locals, and you will find a lot less people here than most of Mallorca’s beaches. You may, however, find yourself in the company of a few goats.

Mallorca’s Most Charming Beach

Cala Deià

Mallorca beach Cala Deia view from restaurant

Deià is a charming village situated in the western end of the Tramuntana mountain range. From here there is a very steep and curvy dead end road down towards the shore.

Despite not having a sandy beach, visitors flock to this rocky bay because of great snorkelling and an overdose of deep turquoise water. On top of that, Cala Deià has two restaurants offering spectacular views. If we were to chose a place for a romantic dinner, this would be it – although we wouldn’t recommend driving this road in the dark.

Mallorca’s Most Spectacular Beach

Caló des Moro

Spectacular Mallorcan beach Calo des Moro

The setting of this beach is absolutely magnificent. It is squeezed in between two parallel flanks of steep rocks, which gives you the feeling that you are swimming in a canyon river. There are large flat rocks at the shore, but otherwise the seabed is soft and sandy.

A steep path from a rock plateau leads you down to the beach. The beach itself is only around 40 meters wide and it has a backdrop of various rock formations. Getting to Caló des Moro is not so simple, but it is without question worth the effort. The area has a strict residents only car zone, so you have to park the car at a nearby parking lot and walk 20 minutes from there.

The crowds at the beach are predominantly locals, but the reputation of the spot has widely spread. In the high season, we recommend that you come before 10 AM if you want to secure a good spot on the beach.

Mallorca’s Best Beaches for Watersport

Bahia de Pollensa

Kitesurfing Mallorca at Bahia de Pollensa.

On a windy day, you’ll be met with a colourful array of kites at Bahia de Pollensa. This is the kite surfing hub of the island, and you will find a handful of rental services along the beach. The beach itself is narrow and filled with seaweed. The seabed is also rather mushy which makes this beach less suitable for regular swimming and tanning.

If you are here to kite surf, that is all the better, because you won’t have to navigate through crowds of people enjoying the sea. The depth of the sea stays shallow for a long stretch as you walk out, which makes it ideal for kite surfing. Windsurfing is also available here, but less practiced. On days with limited wind, you can rent a SUP board instead.

Bahia de Pollensa is located in the northeastern corner of Mallorca, easily accessible by road. The road runs along the beach with ample parking opportunities on the opposite side of the beach.

Playa de Muro

Blue water at Playa de Muro in Mallorca

A short half hour drive south of Bahia de Pollensa, you will reach Playa de Muro. The beach stretches as far as the eye can see. The beach is separated into several sections, and a couple of these have either windsurfing, kitesurfing or SUP boarding courses and rentals.

On top of that, the beach here is very nice with fine sand and a very child friendly shore. The first 50 meters out are shallow, so it’s a great place to let your kids play. Contrary to Bahia de Pollensa this beach has a lot of visitors and the hotels are lined up behind it.

Mallorca’s Most Family Friendly Beach

Playa de Formentor

The family-friendly beach Playa de Formentor in Mallorca

Speaking of family friendly, our top recommendation is Playa de Formentor. The road to there is a cozy forest road leading you through some nice pine forest. There is paid parking near the beach. A strip of pine forest along the beach provides plenty opportunities for shade.

At the beach there are opportunities to get something to eat and facilities such as a beach shower and toilets. The water is crystal clear, and again you can walk far out from the beach with the water not reaching your belly button. Formentor is actually a bay, and it’s protectedness make the water very calm at most times.

Behind the beach are the lush gardens of Formentor, a Royal Hideaway Hotel. This is a classic five-star resort with a rich history of accommodating celebreties such as  Grace Kelly, Charlie Chaplin, and Winston Churchill. This is one of Mallorca’s most iconic hotels.

Mallorca’s Best Beach

Cala Torta

Mallorca's best beach Cala Torta

Among the many superb beaches of Mallorca, selecting the best one is both challenging and dependent on what you are looking for in a beach experience. That still doesn’t stop us from selecting Cala Torta.

Could this be the widest beach ever? A canyon full of fine sand for approximately 200 meters leads you down to the shoreline. So even though the beach can get crowded, there is always an opportunity to find an empty spot.

The beach is equipped with a beach bar serving food and drinks. During the high season there are lifeguards here, as the waters can get rowdy with strong currents and relatively big waves. If you like fighting waves this could be your favourite too.

Getting to Cala Torta is a bit of an adventure, since the road leading to the beach is an ill-maintained gravel road. Perhaps this is why the beach, despite its popularity, is still not as crowded as some of Mallorca’s other popular beaches.

#MallorcaBeach

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Resources for Exploring Mallorca’s Beaches

There are plenty of good reviews of the beaches of Mallorca. Here is a list of resources that we think are useful and informative in case you want to research further.

 abcMallorca’s  Best beaches in Majorca

 SeeMallorca.com’s Best Beaches in Mallorca

 Charles Marlow’s  Mallorca’s ten best hidden beaches and calas

 Mallorca Spotlight’s Mallorca’s best beaches

For more Mediterranean beaches, don’t forget to check our overview of the beaches of Crete Island in Greece.

Discovering Crete’s Most Amazing Beaches

Dog walking on a Greek beach during sunset. Crete beaches.

Guest post by Cal Bailey, Mountain Leon.

Crete is the largest of the Greek islands. You can find it between the northern side of the Libyan Sea and the southern side of Aegean Sea. Crete has a coastline that stretches across more than a thousand kilometers (650 miles), along which there is an abundance of magnificent beaches.

Crete’s beaches are world famous, so as you might expect the island can get pretty busy during peak season.

Exploring the island’s beaches is almost a given if you visit, and as all are well looked after and clean, you’ll find surprisingly untarnished scenes: white sands, sparkling blue waters, impressive cliffs and forests. People travel great distances to appreciate the amazing beaches, the relaxed Greek lifestyle and the stunning scenery in and around the island.

Whether you prefer bustling, lively beaches with lots of entertainment, or peaceful, relaxing beaches, Crete is a safe bet. Each of its beaches is unique, so check out our guide to find the perfect beaches for your trip:

Best of the Busy Beaches

Matala Beach

Matala Beach Crete Island, Greece

Matala beach is a firm favourite with those looking to indulge in the romantic side of life. That’s so easy here simply because it’s totally beautiful! The beach does attract a lot of tourists because of this fact, but the atmosphere is great and you couldn’t get bored if you tried.

Matala beach is lively and fun, and there is plenty to see and do. The views are gorgeous – especially if you go over the hill to the Red Beach, a stunning one-time hippie spot that has now been claimed by tourists.

Elafonisi Beach

Elafonisi beach on Crete Island in GreecePhoto credits: Incrediblecrete.gr

Elafonisi Beach is one of Crete’s most famous beaches. Not many beaches are dubbed ‘heaven on earth’, so the clue is in the name! Sands here are pinkish-white, soft as can be and lined with fragrant cedar trees. Elafonisi is incredibly beautiful and inviting, so you won’t be alone there – especially in peak season.

It’s a well-organised beach with plenty of cantinas, snack bars, showers and changing rooms, and if you want to stay there overnight, you can camp.  When you want shade, relax under an umbrella. Families particularly like this beach as the water reaches only 1 metre in height, so it’s safer for younger kids. Lifeguards patrol the beach regardless.

Best of the Relaxing Beaches

Istro Beach

If busy beaches aren’t your thing, consider the crystal blue waters and soft white sands of Istro beach. It is a very large beach, so there are plenty of sun-loungers and umbrellas waiting for those who want to spend their day lounging in front of the ocean with a good book.

The atmosphere is truly peaceful, with everyone keeping themselves to themselves. There are private spots for when you wish to be (more or less) alone! When you’re hungry, pop over to one of the tavernas close by. You can sample some of the islands’ finest seafood and other tasty local dishes.

Rodakino Beach

Rodakino Beach CretePhoto credits: Incrediblecrete.gr

Rodakino beach is located on the south side of Rethymno, and isn’t far from the village of Plakias, so it’s worth visiting both on the same day if you have time. Rodakino is a sizeable beach with sands and waters typical of this exceptional island.

It has a decent number of sunbeds, if you want to recline in the sun. Although it is organized, it has also been left alone to a certain extent. You can expect a calm atmosphere here; there are likely to be families and couples making use of this partly secluded beach. If you want to stay nearby you can rent an apartment, and there are plenty of decent tavernas close by too.

Beaches with Watersports

Voulisma Beach

Crete's Voulisma beach

Photo credits: Cretanbeaches.com

For some, a holiday wouldn’t be a holiday without a few watersports thrown in. Voulisma beach is as a good a beach as any for that. It has been affectionately nicknamed ‘golden beach’, which indicates its level of beauty.  White sands and turquoise-blue waters combine to make the kind of postcard-worthy scene that inspires people to visit.

Voulisma is a very carefully organised beach, so although it is busy, you should always find a sun lounger, and an umbrella when you need shade. Voulisma has ‘Blue Flag’ status, meaning that the sea is mostly calm. Water sports are one of the biggest draws of this beach, but it’s also great for just chilling out and taking in the sights.

Falassarna Beach

Photo credits: Destinationcrete.gr

Falassarna Beach in Chania Town is the go-to beach for windsurf lovers, as it has a windsurfing station throughout the summer. Falassarna has a reputation for being one of the cleanest beaches in Greece; it was also awarded status as one of Crete’s best beaches and is considered to be one of Europe’s top ten.

Families tend to like this beach as it has great facilities, several tavernas and places to stay close by, but it appeals to all kinds of people. It’s worth visiting just to see the old Roman ruins of the ancient city Falassarna.

Beaches with a Difference

Glyka Nera Beach

The amazing Crete beach of Glyka Nera

Photo credits: Cretanbeaches.com

Glyka Nera means ‘sweet water’ and with its deep blue colour, you can see how it earned its name. There are many pebbles here, which makes it quite a striking sight; one of the most interesting features of Glyka Nera Beach is the water that bubbles up from the springs below the pebbles. The water is clean enough to drink…  it’s cool, refreshing and natural.

The beach is accessible only by boat, but it is well served by a tavern on a rock. You won’t need to buy water thanks to the abundant spring water, and the tamarisk trees around the beach provide plenty of shade. Don’t forget to check out the cave and its shrine, and bear in mind that there are no toilets anywhere here… there are plenty of naturists, however!

Balos Beach

Crete Beaches - Balos Beach

Another Chania Town beach, Balos, is one of Crete’s most loved beaches. Looking down from the hilltops, it will seem that you’re beholding a beautiful blue lagoon. The waters here are shimmering and clear, warm and shallow; the sand is soft and white, with a pinkish tinge.

During July and August it can get pretty crowded, so it may be smart to arrive in the morning before the boats roll in. Snorkeling is popular at Balos Beach, and you might even see monk seals and loggerhead turtles. Look out for the rocky island called Gramvoussa, which has a Venetian castle and excellent sea views.

A Cretan Beach for Everyone

Whether you’re in Crete for the relaxation, the watersports or even the skinny-dipping opportunities, there is a beach for you. The entire island is beautiful, but we wouldn’t mind betting you’ll spend most of your time on these idyllic beaches!

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Cal Bailey runs Mountain Leon – a travel blog he started after two years of backpacking around the world.

Don’t forget to check out his travel tales and tips on his website.

Cal Bailey - Mountain Leon

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