There’s nothing people look forward to throughout a year of toil and tears than taking a week or two away from the rat race to kick back and relax on a beautiful, sandy beach. The big name beaches – Venice Beach, Miami Beach, Malibu, Acapulco – often come up short when it comes to turning people’s dreams into reality. As these are the most famous beaches, they attract a lot of people. Crowds of them, in fact. So many that you often can’t find a place to sit down, and when you can, you have to put up with the sight and sound of the same people you have spent all year dreaming of getting away from. Not only that, but accommodation and food prices get hiked up to a ridiculous level. You end up paying a fortune for a mediocre experience. On the other hand, if you opt for a cheaper resort, such as certain places in Hawaii, the Philippines or Australia, you could easily find out exactly why they are cheaper – you might end up going home with half your leg chewed off in a shark attack, your bank balanced emptied out at gunpoint, or in a bag after having been sucked under by the incredibly strong current.
A great way to get around this is to avoid resorts altogether. There are still some incredibly beautiful and peaceful spots around the world that the tourist industry hasn’t yet destroyed. They are invariably in isolated areas where the government hasn’t yet ruined the view by reclaiming land for an international airport and bulldozed the forests and farms to make way for tacky high-end hotel chains, rip-off restaurants and seedy casinos.
Take Smuggler’s Cove in Zakynthos, for example. Ask a travel agent about this remote, secluded bay and they might think you have been reading too many pirate fantasy novels. Yet Smuggler’s Cove exists, surrounded on all sides by steep white cliffs, its golden sands descending smoothly into the turquoise-clear waters of the Ionian Sea. Aside from being located on an island in the first place, Smuggler’s Cove is made even more inaccessible by the fact that it cannot be reached on foot. You need to sail around the coast of the island if you want to set foot there. Once there, the only company you’ll have will be the gentle ripple of the sea, the sun and the wreck of the smuggling vessel Panagiotis.
If you’re looking for something slightly more accessible, but still uncrowded and unspoiled, you might not need to look much further than Nantucket, Massachusetts. Despite the island’s name, which is literally translated as ‘faraway land’, you can get there easily by ferry or light airplane from the mainland. The true beauty and charm of the island lies away from the main town, and you won’t find it in a car. A beach bike (in case you’re not familiar with beach bikes, take a look here: http://www.cyclingplaza.com/comfort-cruiser-bike-reviews/), is the best way to take in the coast, secluded beaches, romantic views and historical sights.
A ride along Dionis Beach will take you to see the second-oldest lighthouse in the country; a daytrip cycling along ‘Sconset Beach will take you 18-miles along a coastline full of interesting views, including the Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum.
The whole place is best avoided in high-season, when obnoxious bankers and traders from New York and Boston can be seen jostling for the best table in every restaurant. Come out of season and you’ll find that top-quality service endures, along with a charming local friendliness. It’s a safe place for kids to explore alone and is remarkably well-protected in environmental terms. The island’s wildlife and around one third of its territory are protected. These lands include the beaches, forests, grasslands, meadows and heath in which you can really get away from it all.
Whereas Smuggler’s Cove in Zakynthos, which is just like the type of desert island you would expect to see in a castaway movie, can be just a bit too isolated and lonely, Nantucket offers you the peace and tranquility you seek, along with accessibility to shops, groceries, restaurants, entertainment, shelter and civilization in general.