Beach Blog

HIDDEN BEACHES - PENTLE BAY - TRESCO - ISLES OF SCILLY November 27 2013

Pentle Bay, Tresco, Scilly Isles, Cornwall
Photo by Vaughan Ives

Continuing in our series of Hidden Beaches I thought I'd share a particular favourite.  One which has a special place in my heart as I honeymooned here.  

Pentle Bay in Tresco and the Isles of Scilly could almost be anywhere other than England.  Its white sand and intensely blue sea give it an almost tropical look, but this beach is in fact on Tresco in the Isles of Scilly, almost 30 miles south-west of Land's End. The water here is safe for swimming, which is tempting since the Isles have an unusually warm climate for Britain, and the beach is a great spot for collecting sea shells or just lounging on the sand.

There's lots to do elsewhere on the island. Tresco Abbey Gardens have a large and diverse collection of tropical plants some that you would think shouldn't belong here like Stralizias or Bird of Africa whose natural habitat is South Africa and some of which flower throughout the winter despite having no protection from the elements. It is also home to figureheads salvaged from ships which were wrecked on Tresco's shores and beautiful sculpture. The safe waters around the island mean it's ideal for water sports.

Visitors can also Island hop to Bryher where further accomodation is available or day trip to some of the other Islands such as St Martins and St Mary's.

This is also a keen sailing ground and you will see sailing visitors both from Britain's mainland and from further afield such as France.  For those there are laundry facilities available on the island together with a small supermarket.

WHERE TO STAY

There are two hotels on the Island, the aptly named Island Hotel which offers beautiful family accommodation and also has a heated swimming pool.  The other the New Inn, is a comfortable public house and is a popular lunchtime and evening destination and overlooks New Grimsby Bay. Even better are the various houses and cottages available for rental. Some of the most luxurious options on the island are the Flying Boat Cottages, well-designed beachfront houses which can sleep up to 10 people, and the lovely Sea Garden Cottages. For more cottages to rent on Tresco, try i-escape orwww.tresco.co.uk.

GETTING THERE

You can sail across on a Ferry which runs daily or alternatively use the Skybus.  Sadly the Helicopter service which ran from Penzance no longer exists.  


HIDDEN BEACHES - AGUA AMARGA – A BEAUTIFUL GEM IN ALMERIA, SOUTHERN SPAIN October 09 2013

This is our first review in what I hope will be a series on some of our favourite beaches in Europe and the Rest of the World.  Agua Amarga is a real gem hidden in Southern Almeria, Spain.  Lying to the south of the Moorish town of Mojacar and to the East of the town of Almeria.

Agua Amarga  or ‘Bitter Water’ as it translates  is a little white-washed fishing village on the edge of the Cabo de Gata nature reserve.  It is a quiet sheltered bay nestled amongst and almost hidden completely by cliffs.  It is fringed by a magnificent fine sandy beach that stretches down to beautiful clear turquoise waters.  It was voted one of Europes top 20 beaches back in 2003 by the Sunday Times and is certainly one of my favourite beaches in Europe.   

There is a strong Moorish influence over the architecture of the village which is to be expected in this area.  With its relaxed atmosphere and local hospitality it is a popular resort with the Spanish all year round and an ideal place for a relaxing holiday.  It has been described as one of the last hidden paradises of the Mediterranean. 

There are a number of charming bars, and restaurants to tempt you and for the energetic  a myriad of water-sports.  A real treat are the paellas which are cooked in large open barbeques on the beach, but do make sure you leave sufficient time to endulge in this spanish delight.Cabo de Gata Natural Park sits on your doorstep providing a further opportunity to explore by foot, car or bike and covers some 38,000 hectares of land and another 12,000 hectares under water.   It is an area of natural unspoilt beauty with rugged scenery, volcanic craters, rocky headlands and sandy coves.   

WHERE TO STAY

El Kio Tiko – A boutique style hotel sitting overlooking Aqua Amarga  www.eltiokiko.com

La Almendra y El Gitano  -  www.laalmendrayelgitano.com

If you are looking to self-cater there are a number of apartments and villas to rent in Aqua Amarga and a small supermarket is also available in the village.

WHAT TO TAKE

It is worth noting that if you plan to swim in the sea here swimming or aqua shoes are an absolute must as the entrance to the sea is extremely pebbly – but don’t let that put you off!

Good Sun protection as this part of Spain is extremely hot in the summer!

OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST

Sorbas Caves Cuevas de Sorbas are an impressive labyrinth of underground caverns.

Troglodyte Villages An interesting excursion is a visit to the famous troglodyte villages where modern-day cave dwellers have burrowed their extraordinary homes out of the soft rock. You can see the doors, windows and chimneys from the outside but for the most part these "casas cuevas" are buried within the hillsides, protecting their occupants from the blistering summer heat. You'll find cave houses in several villages in Almeria including Alhabia, Gador, Benahadux, Fondon and Laujar de Andarax.

Granada The historic city of Granada, with its fabulous Alhambra Palace and Generalife Garden 

Mojacar Pueblo The historic old town of Mojacar is a short journey North with its Moorish fortresses and medieval architecture.

Stroll through a maze of cobbled streets containing vibrant market stalls, chapels and shaded courtyards while enjoying typically unique Andalucian hospitality in the myriad of traditional tapas bars.On Wednesday mornings you can enjoy the colourful chaos of the weekly street market.

White Washed Hillside VillagesWe highly recommend a visit to Sorbas and Nijar both of which are picturesque traditional white washed villages.

GarruchaSee the fisherman unload their daily catch in the harbour and pay a visit to the harbourside restaurant for some spectacular fresh fish.

GETTING THERE

Flights from the UK are available to both Almeria (which is a short 30km drive to Agua Amarga) and to Alicante.