The Southern Ocean

A decision by the International Hydrographic Organization in the spring of 2000 delimited a fifth world ocean - the Southern Ocean - from the southern portions of the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, and Pacific Ocean. The Southern Ocean extends from the coast of Antarctica north to 60 degrees south latitude, which coincides with the Antarctic Treaty Limit. The Southern Ocean is now the fourth largest of the world's five oceans (after the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and Indian Ocean, but larger than the Arctic Ocean).

body of water between 60 degrees south latitude and Antarctica
Geographic coordinates:
65 00 S, 0 00 E (nominally), but the Southern Ocean has the unique distinction of being a large circumpolar body of water totally encircling the continent of Antarctica; this ring of water lies between 60 degrees south latitude and the coast of Antarctica and encompasses 360 degrees of longitude
Map references:
Antarctic Region
total: 20.327 million sq km
note: includes Amundsen Sea, Bellingshausen Sea, part of the Drake Passage, Ross Sea, a small part of the Scotia Sea, Weddell Sea, and other tributary water bodies
Area - comparative:
slightly more than twice the size of the US
17,968 km
sea temperatures vary from about 10 degrees Celsius to -2 degrees Celsius; cyclonic storms travel eastward around the continent and frequently are intense because of the temperature contrast between ice and open ocean; the ocean area from about latitude 40 south to the Antarctic Circle has the strongest average winds found anywhere on Earth; in winter the ocean freezes outward to 65 degrees south latitude in the Pacific sector and 55 degrees south latitude in the Atlantic sector, lowering surface temperatures well below 0 degrees Celsius; at some coastal points intense persistent drainage winds from the interior keep the shoreline ice-free throughout the winter
the Southern Ocean is deep, 4,000 to 5,000 meters over most of its extent with only limited areas of shallow water; the Antarctic continental shelf is generally narrow and unusually deep, its edge lying at depths of 400 to 800 meters (the global mean is 133 meters); the Antarctic icepack grows from an average minimum of 2.6 million square kilometers in March to about 18.8 million square kilometers in September, better than a sixfold increase in area; the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (21,000 km in length) moves perpetually eastward; it is the world's largest ocean current, transporting 130 million cubic meters of water per second - 100 times the flow of all the world's rivers
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: -7,235 m at the southern end of the South Sandwich Trench
highest point: sea level 0 m
Natural resources:
probable large and possible giant oil and gas fields on the continental margin, manganese nodules, possible placer deposits, sand and gravel, fresh water as icebergs; squid, whales, and seals - none exploited; krill, fishes
Natural hazards:
huge icebergs with drafts up to several hundred meters; smaller bergs and iceberg fragments; sea ice (generally 0.5 to 1 meter thick) with sometimes dynamic short-term variations and with large annual and interannual variations; deep continental shelf floored by glacial deposits varying widely over short distances; high winds and large waves much of the year; ship icing, especially May-October; most of region is remote from sources of search and rescue
Environment - current issues:
increased solar ultraviolet radiation resulting from the Antarctic ozone hole in recent years, reducing marine primary productivity (phytoplankton) by as much as 15% and damaging the DNA of some fish; illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in recent years, especially the landing of an estimated five to six times more Patagonian toothfish than the regulated fishery, which is likely to affect the sustainability of the stock; large amount of incidental mortality of seabirds resulting from long-line fishing for toothfish
note: the now-protected fur seal population is making a strong comeback after severe overexploitation in the 18th and 19th centuries
Environment - international agreements:
the Southern Ocean is subject to all international agreements regarding the world's oceans; in addition, it is subject to these agreements specific to the Antarctic region: International Whaling Commission (prohibits commercial whaling south of 40 degrees south [south of 60 degrees south between 50 degrees and 130 degrees west]); Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Seals (limits sealing); Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (regulates fishing)
note: many nations (including the US) prohibit mineral resource exploration and exploitation south of the fluctuating Polar Front (Antarctic Convergence) which is in the middle of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and serves as the dividing line between the very cold polar surface waters to the south and the warmer waters to the north
Geography - note:
the major chokepoint is the Drake Passage between South America and Antarctica; the Polar Front (Antarctic Convergence) is the best natural definition of the northern extent of the Southern Ocean; it is a distinct region at the middle of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current that separates the very cold polar surface waters to the south from the warmer waters to the north; the Front and the Current extend entirely around Antarctica, reaching south of 60 degrees south near New Zealand and near 48 degrees south in the far South Atlantic coinciding with the path of the maximum westerly winds

Economy - overview:
Fisheries in 2000-01 (1 July to 30 June) landed 112,934 metric tons, of which 87% was krill and 11% Patagonian toothfish. International agreements were adopted in late 1999 to reduce illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, which in the 2000-01 season landed, by one estimate, 8,376 metric tons of Patagonian and antarctic toothfish. In the 2000-01 antarctic summer 12,248 tourists, most of them seaborne, visited the Southern Ocean and Antarctica, compared to 14,762 the previous year.

Ports and harbors:
McMurdo, Palmer, and offshore anchorages in Antarctica
note: few ports or harbors exist on the southern side of the Southern Ocean; ice conditions limit use of most of them to short periods in midsummer; even then some cannot be entered without icebreaker escort; most antarctic ports are operated by government research stations and, except in an emergency, are not open to commercial or private vessels; vessels in any port south of 60 degrees south are subject to inspection by Antarctic Treaty observers (see Article 7)
Transportation - note:
Drake Passage offers alternative to transit through the Panama Canal

Disputes - international:
Antarctic Treaty defers claims (see Antarctica entry), but Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, NZ, Norway, and UK assert claims (some overlapping), including the continental shelf in the Southern Ocean; several states have expressed an interest in extending those continental shelf claims under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to include undersea ridges; the US and most other states do not recognize the land or maritime claims of other states and have made no claims themselves (the US and Russia have reserved the right to do so); no formal claims exist in the waters in the sector between 90 degrees west and 150 degrees west

The Arctic Ocean

The Arctic Ocean is the smallest of the world's five oceans (after the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, and the recently delimited Southern Ocean). The Northwest Passage (US and Canada) and Northern Sea Route (Norway and Russia) are two important seasonal waterways. A sparse network of air, ocean, river, and land routes circumscribes the Arctic Ocean

body of water between Europe, Asia, and North America, mostly north of the Arctic Circle
Geographic coordinates:
90 00 N, 0 00 E
Map references:
Arctic Region
total: 14.056 million sq km
note: includes Baffin Bay, Barents Sea, Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea, East Siberian Sea, Greenland Sea, Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, Northwest Passage, and other tributary water bodies
Area - comparative:
slightly less than 1.5 times the size of the US
45,389 km
polar climate characterized by persistent cold and relatively narrow annual temperature ranges; winters characterized by continuous darkness, cold and stable weather conditions, and clear skies; summers characterized by continuous daylight, damp and foggy weather, and weak cyclones with rain or snow
central surface covered by a perennial drifting polar icepack that, on average, is about 3 meters thick, although pressure ridges may be three times that thickness; clockwise drift pattern in the Beaufort Gyral Stream, but nearly straight-line movement from the New Siberian Islands (Russia) to Denmark Strait (between Greenland and Iceland); the icepack is surrounded by open seas during the summer, but more than doubles in size during the winter and extends to the encircling landmasses; the ocean floor is about 50% continental shelf (highest percentage of any ocean) with the remainder a central basin interrupted by three submarine ridges (Alpha Cordillera, Nansen Cordillera, and Lomonosov Ridge)
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Fram Basin -4,665 m
highest point: sea level 0 m
Natural resources:
sand and gravel aggregates, placer deposits, polymetallic nodules, oil and gas fields, fish, marine mammals (seals and whales)
Natural hazards:
ice islands occasionally break away from northern Ellesmere Island; icebergs calved from glaciers in western Greenland and extreme northeastern Canada; permafrost in islands; virtually ice locked from October to June; ships subject to superstructure icing from October to May
Environment - current issues:
endangered marine species include walruses and whales; fragile ecosystem slow to change and slow to recover from disruptions or damage; thinning polar icepack
Geography - note:
major chokepoint is the southern Chukchi Sea (northern access to the Pacific Ocean via the Bering Strait); strategic location between North America and Russia; shortest marine link between the extremes of eastern and western Russia; floating research stations operated by the US and Russia; maximum snow cover in March or April about 20 to 50 centimeters over the frozen ocean; snow cover lasts about 10 months

Economy Arctic Ocean
Economy - overview:
Economic activity is limited to the exploitation of natural resources, including petroleum, natural gas, fish, and seals.

Transportation Arctic Ocean
Ports and harbors:
Churchill (Canada), Murmansk (Russia), Prudhoe Bay (US)
Transportation - note:
sparse network of air, ocean, river, and land routes; the Northwest Passage (North America) and Northern Sea Route (Eurasia) are important seasonal waterways

The Indian Ocean

The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's five oceans (after the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean, but larger than the Southern Ocean and Arctic Ocean). Four critically important access waterways are the Suez Canal (Egypt), Bab el Mandeb (Djibouti-Yemen), Strait of Hormuz (Iran-Oman), and Strait of Malacca (Indonesia-Malaysia). The decision by the International Hydrographic Organization in the spring of 2000 to delimit a fifth ocean, the Southern Ocean, removed the portion of the Indian Ocean south of 60 degrees south.

body of water between Africa, the Southern Ocean, Asia, and Australia
Geographic coordinates:
20 00 S, 80 00 E
Map references:
Political Map of the World
total: 68.556 million sq km
note: includes Andaman Sea, Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, Flores Sea, Great Australian Bight, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Java Sea, Mozambique Channel, Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Savu Sea, Strait of Malacca, Timor Sea, and other tributary water bodies
Area - comparative:
about 5.5 times the size of the US
66,526 km
northeast monsoon (December to April), southwest monsoon (June to October); tropical cyclones occur during May/June and October/November in the northern Indian Ocean and January/February in the southern Indian Ocean
surface dominated by counterclockwise gyre (broad, circular system of currents) in the southern Indian Ocean; unique reversal of surface currents in the northern Indian Ocean; low atmospheric pressure over southwest Asia from hot, rising, summer air results in the southwest monsoon and southwest-to-northeast winds and currents, while high pressure over northern Asia from cold, falling, winter air results in the northeast monsoon and northeast-to-southwest winds and currents; ocean floor is dominated by the Mid-Indian Ocean Ridge and subdivided by the Southeast Indian Ocean Ridge, Southwest Indian Ocean Ridge, and Ninetyeast Ridge
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Java Trench -7,258 m
highest point: sea level 0 m
Natural resources:
oil and gas fields, fish, shrimp, sand and gravel aggregates, placer deposits, polymetallic nodules
Natural hazards:
occasional icebergs pose navigational hazard in southern reaches
Environment - current issues:
endangered marine species include the dugong, seals, turtles, and whales; oil pollution in the Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf, and Red Sea
Geography - note:
major chokepoints include Bab el Mandeb, Strait of Hormuz, Strait of Malacca, southern access to the Suez Canal, and the Lombok Strait

Economy - overview:
The Indian Ocean provides major sea routes connecting the Middle East, Africa, and East Asia with Europe and the Americas. It carries a particularly heavy traffic of petroleum and petroleum products from the oilfields of the Persian Gulf and Indonesia. Its fish are of great and growing importance to the bordering countries for domestic consumption and export. Fishing fleets from Russia, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan also exploit the Indian Ocean, mainly for shrimp and tuna. Large reserves of hydrocarbons are being tapped in the offshore areas of Saudi Arabia, Iran, India, and western Australia. An estimated 40% of the world's offshore oil production comes from the Indian Ocean. Beach sands rich in heavy minerals and offshore placer deposits are actively exploited by bordering countries, particularly India, South Africa, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

Ports and harbors:
Chennai (Madras; India), Colombo (Sri Lanka), Durban (South Africa), Jakarta (Indonesia), Kolkata (Calcutta; India) Melbourne (Australia), Mumbai (Bombay; India), Richards Bay (South Africa)

The Atlantic Ocean

The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest of the world's five oceans (after the Pacific Ocean, but larger than the Indian Ocean, Southern Ocean, and Arctic Ocean). The Kiel Canal (Germany), Oresund (Denmark-Sweden), Bosporus (Turkey), Strait of Gibraltar (Morocco-Spain), and the Saint Lawrence Seaway (Canada-US) are important strategic access waterways. The decision by the International Hydrographic Organization in the spring of 2000 to delimit a fifth world ocean, the Southern Ocean, removed the portion of the Atlantic Ocean south of 60 degrees south.

body of water between Africa, Europe, the Southern Ocean, and the Western Hemisphere
Geographic coordinates:
0 00 N, 25 00 W
Map references:
Political Map of the World
total: 76.762 million sq km
note: includes Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Caribbean Sea, Davis Strait, Denmark Strait, part of the Drake Passage, Gulf of Mexico, Labrador Sea, Mediterranean Sea, North Sea, Norwegian Sea, almost all of the Scotia Sea, and other tributary water bodies
Area - comparative:
slightly less than 6.5 times the size of the US
111,866 km
tropical cyclones (hurricanes) develop off the coast of Africa near Cape Verde and move westward into the Caribbean Sea; hurricanes can occur from May to December, but are most frequent from August to November
surface usually covered with sea ice in Labrador Sea, Denmark Strait, and coastal portions of the Baltic Sea from October to June; clockwise warm-water gyre (broad, circular system of currents) in the northern Atlantic, counterclockwise warm-water gyre in the southern Atlantic; the ocean floor is dominated by the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a rugged north-south centerline for the entire Atlantic basin
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Milwaukee Deep in the Puerto Rico Trench -8,605 m
highest point: sea level 0 m
Natural resources:
oil and gas fields, fish, marine mammals (seals and whales), sand and gravel aggregates, placer deposits, polymetallic nodules, precious stones
Natural hazards:
icebergs common in Davis Strait, Denmark Strait, and the northwestern Atlantic Ocean from February to August and have been spotted as far south as Bermuda and the Madeira Islands; ships subject to superstructure icing in extreme northern Atlantic from October to May; persistent fog can be a maritime hazard from May to September; hurricanes (May to December)
Environment - current issues:
endangered marine species include the manatee, seals, sea lions, turtles, and whales; drift net fishing is hastening the decline of fish stocks and contributing to international disputes; municipal sludge pollution off eastern US, southern Brazil, and eastern Argentina; oil pollution in Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Lake Maracaibo, Mediterranean Sea, and North Sea; industrial waste and municipal sewage pollution in Baltic Sea, North Sea, and Mediterranean Sea
Geography - note:
major chokepoints include the Dardanelles, Strait of Gibraltar, access to the Panama and Suez Canals; strategic straits include the Strait of Dover, Straits of Florida, Mona Passage, The Sound (Oresund), and Windward Passage; the Equator divides the Atlantic Ocean into the North Atlantic Ocean and South Atlantic Ocean

Economy Atlantic Ocean
Economy - overview:
The Atlantic Ocean provides some of the world's most heavily trafficked sea routes, between and within the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. Other economic activity includes the exploitation of natural resources, e.g., fishing, dredging of aragonite sands (The Bahamas), and production of crude oil and natural gas (Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and North Sea).

Ports and harbors:
Alexandria (Egypt), Algiers (Algeria), Antwerp (Belgium), Barcelona (Spain), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Casablanca (Morocco), Colon (Panama), Copenhagen (Denmark), Dakar (Senegal), Gdansk (Poland), Hamburg (Germany), Helsinki (Finland), Las Palmas (Canary Islands, Spain), Le Havre (France), Lisbon (Portugal), London (UK), Marseille (France), Montevideo (Uruguay), Montreal (Canada), Naples (Italy), New Orleans (US), New York (US), Oran (Algeria), Oslo (Norway), Peiraiefs or Piraeus (Greece), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Rotterdam (Netherlands), Saint Petersburg (Russia), Stockholm (Sweden)
Transportation - note:
Kiel Canal and Saint Lawrence Seaway are two important waterways; significant domestic commercial and recreational use of Intracoastal Waterway on central and south Atlantic seaboard and Gulf of Mexico coast of US

The Pacific Ocean

The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the world's five oceans (followed by the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Southern Ocean, and Arctic Ocean). Strategically important access waterways include the La Perouse, Tsugaru, Tsushima, Taiwan, Singapore, and Torres Straits. The decision by the International Hydrographic Organization in the spring of 2000 to delimit a fifth ocean, the Southern Ocean, removed the portion of the Pacific Ocean south of 60 degrees south.
body of water between the Southern Ocean, Asia, Australia, and the Western Hemisphere
Geographic coordinates:
0 00 N, 160 00 W
Map references:
Political Map of the World
total: 155.557 million sq km
note: includes Bali Sea, Bering Sea, Bering Strait, Coral Sea, East China Sea, Gulf of Alaska, Gulf of Tonkin, Philippine Sea, Sea of Japan, Sea of Okhotsk, South China Sea, Tasman Sea, and other tributary water bodies
Area - comparative:
about 15 times the size of the US; covers about 28% of the global surface; larger than the total land area of the world
135,663 km
planetary air pressure systems and resultant wind patterns exhibit remarkable uniformity in the south and east; trade winds and westerly winds are well-developed patterns, modified by seasonal fluctuations; tropical cyclones (hurricanes) may form south of Mexico from June to October and affect Mexico and Central America; continental influences cause climatic uniformity to be much less pronounced in the eastern and western regions at the same latitude in the North Pacific Ocean; the western Pacific is monsoonal - a rainy season occurs during the summer months, when moisture-laden winds blow from the ocean over the land, and a dry season during the winter months, when dry winds blow from the Asian landmass back to the ocean; tropical cyclones (typhoons) may strike southeast and east Asia from May to December
surface currents in the northern Pacific are dominated by a clockwise, warm-water gyre (broad circular system of currents) and in the southern Pacific by a counterclockwise, cool-water gyre; in the northern Pacific, sea ice forms in the Bering Sea and Sea of Okhotsk in winter; in the southern Pacific, sea ice from Antarctica reaches its northernmost extent in October; the ocean floor in the eastern Pacific is dominated by the East Pacific Rise, while the western Pacific is dissected by deep trenches, including the Mariana Trench, which is the world's deepest
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench -10,924 m
highest point: sea level 0 m
Natural resources:
oil and gas fields, polymetallic nodules, sand and gravel aggregates, placer deposits, fish
Natural hazards:
surrounded by a zone of violent volcanic and earthquake activity sometimes referred to as the "Pacific Ring of Fire"; subject to tropical cyclones (typhoons) in southeast and east Asia from May to December (most frequent from July to October); tropical cyclones (hurricanes) may form south of Mexico and strike Central America and Mexico from June to October (most common in August and September); cyclical El Nino/La Nina phenomenon occurs in the equatorial Pacific, influencing weather in the Western Hemisphere and the western Pacific; ships subject to superstructure icing in extreme north from October to May; persistent fog in the northern Pacific can be a maritime hazard from June to December
Environment - current issues:
endangered marine species include the dugong, sea lion, sea otter, seals, turtles, and whales; oil pollution in Philippine Sea and South China Sea
Geography - note:
the major chokepoints are the Bering Strait, Panama Canal, Luzon Strait, and the Singapore Strait; the Equator divides the Pacific Ocean into the North Pacific Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean; dotted with low coral islands and rugged volcanic islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean

Economy Pacific Ocean
Economy - overview:
The Pacific Ocean is a major contributor to the world economy and particularly to those nations its waters directly touch. It provides low-cost sea transportation between East and West, extensive fishing grounds, offshore oil and gas fields, minerals, and sand and gravel for the construction industry. In 1996, over 60% of the world's fish catch came from the Pacific Ocean. Exploitation of offshore oil and gas reserves is playing an ever-increasing role in the energy supplies of the US, Australia, NZ, China, and Peru. The high cost of recovering offshore oil and gas, combined with the wide swings in world prices for oil since 1985, has led to fluctuations in new drillings.

Transportation Pacific Ocean
Ports and harbors:
Bangkok (Thailand), Hong Kong (China), Kao-hsiung (Taiwan), Los Angeles (US), Manila (Philippines), Pusan (South Korea), San Francisco (US), Seattle (US), Shanghai (China), Singapore, Sydney (Australia), Vladivostok (Russia), Wellington (NZ), Yokohama (Japan)
Transportation - note:
Inside Passage offers protected waters from southeast Alaska to Puget Sound (Washington state)

Ocean, Full Of Adventure

The world is full of adventure. Ocean are one of the greatest source of adventure.

Although the oceans of the earth are all connected and truly one "World Ocean,"
Most often the world is divided into four major "oceans"

1. The Pacific Ocean    
2. Atlantic Ocean
3. Arctic Ocean
4. Indian Ocean.

Some consider there to be five oceans - the fifth being an ocean surrounding Antarctica called the Antarctic Ocean or Southern Ocean

The pacific ocean is the world's largest and the deepest ocean

Deepest Point in the Ocean

Every water body has a deepest point, as compared to other regions. The same is applicable to the five oceans of the world. Like for example, the Marina trench is found to be the deepest part of the pacific ocean. Here is a list of the deepest points in each of the five oceans:
  • Pacific Ocean: 35,797 feet (Mariana Trench)
  • Atlantic Ocean: 28,374 feet (Puerto Rico Trench)
  • Southern Ocean: 23,736 feet (South Sandwich Trench)
  • Indian Ocean: 23,376 feet (Java Trench)
  • Arctic Ocean: 17,881 feet (Eurasia Basin)

Isles of Scilly Beaches

If you don't mind a bit of travel time the Isles of Scilly, 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall, host some of the best British beaches, especially the tiny island of St Martin's [pop. 140], its one hotel, St Martin's on the Isle and solitary pub. Get there via ferry from the biggest of the Scilly islands, St Mary's.
Another island, Tresco, not only offers more great beaches - such as Appletree Bay - but also a botanical fairyland of 20,000 exotic world plants scattered with strange statuary, in Tresco Abbey Gardens.
Getting there: Flights go to the Scillies from Land's End, Newquay, Exeter, Bristol, Southampton mostly only in summertime, check the Skybus Timetable. Ferries run from Penzance, along the Cornish coast to St Mary's from April to end of October and take 2hrs 40 minutes

Northumberland Beaches

Not exactly a great beach in terms of climate and facilities perhaps but Bamburgh beach's spectacular setting is great compensation, with not only the biggest sand castle you've ever seen behind you and a half-crown of glossy grassy dunes, but also views across to Lindisfarne, the moors of Northumberland and the medieval walls of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Bamburgh is near Berwick-upon-Tweed, off the A1 motorway

Kent Beaches

Broadstairs is a tranquil old resort town 78 miles from London and only 15 from medieval Canterbury, a place to experience old-style, traditional British beach-going, complete with donkey rides, live bands [brass bands, not the modern racket made by surly long-hairs, damn their girly looks] and fireworks in summertime. Old fashioned it is, but Broadstairs still offers fine, large beaches [Viking Bay is the big one but another six are available if space runs out] with soft sand, Blue Flag waters and an air of timeless gentility that is missing from neighbouring Ramsgate or Margate.

East Sussex Beaches

Brighton's beach can hardly be described as one of Britain's best in terms of swimmability but deserves inclusion for the great walks and entertainments along both upper and lower promenades, the brash pier, the long history of the city and the easy access from London for day trippers since the one hour rail connection was completed in 1841

Texas Beaches

Tourists don't normally associate beaches with Texas but there is no shortage of welcoming sand along nearly 400 miles of Gulf coastline and seven barrier islands.
Sea Rim State Park, though severely damaged by recent hurricanes is for nature lovers, Mustang Island State Park with its 5-mile stretch of powder sand, 30 minutes ferry from Corpus Christi, is great for weekends.
The finest beach is the popular resort of South Padre Island, with 30 miles of silky sand, calm water, mild weather and excellent nightlife, an ideal destination for spring vacations and very, very close to Mexico if you run out of tequila.
For absolute solitude, try sleeping on a primitive beach campground at Matagorda Island State Park and Wildlife Management Area.
Getting to South Padre Island: Take Interstate Hwy 37 south from San Antonio to U.S. Hwy. 77, then east on Texas 100. When your feet get wet, you're on the beach at South Padre Island

North Carolina Beaches

North Carolina enjoys 300 miles of coastline and barrier island beaches with clean blue waters.
The best beaches can be found along the Outer Bank such as The Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the first protected seashore in the country and its 16 miles of wilderness beaches offer a wide variety of outdoor activities as well as historic interest. This is regarded as one of the country's best water playgrounds.
The beaches on the Pamlico Sound side are easier to swim in, with shallower, calmer waters than the Atlantic Ocean side and its powerful currents.
The most accessible beach is Carolina Beach State Park combined with the Freeman Park Recreation Area, providing countless sport options, entertainments and facilities, so this works well for family vacations.
Getting there: Carolina Beach is located off US 421 in New Hanover County on Dow Road, 10 miles south of Wilmington.

New Jersey

Although Atlantic City is well-known for the world's first and longest board walk, entertainment complexes and vast beach, the Jersey Shore hosts more than 90 miles of superb beaches in its 127 miles of coastline.
Some of the best beaches can be found at southernmost Cape May; in the small beach resort of Ocean City; local favourites are Wildwood & Wildwood Crest; less-known is Long Beach Island; then there's the tiny beach community of Seaside Heights on a barrier island; secluded Stone Harbour Point; and finally eco-friendly Island Beach State Park.
Getting there: the Jersey Shore is New Jersey's Atlantic coast

New York

Long Island, the biggest island on the country's east coast with 400 miles of coastline and only a short drive east of Manhattan [via the Brooklyn Bridge] embraces some of America's best beaches, known for their long stretches of sugar white sands, mild surf, clear refreshing water, colorful communities and flashing nightlife.
Prepare for crushing crowds in summer months, particularly driving along route 27.
The celebrated Hamptons Beaches, known simply as 'The Hamptons', is an entire area of the South Fork, where the glitterati have been spending their summers for more than 100 years.
Some favourites: East Hampton's Main Beach for July 4th fireworks; the large public beach in Jones Beach State Park; stylish Southampton's Coopers Beach if you do not mind sky-high parking fees; and Fire Island National Seashore for its natural beauty.
Getting there: a dozen major roads from New York City lead into Long Island, all New York airports offer transport there and ferries run the gauntlet too

Rhode Island

With Rhode Island's 411 miles of rugged coastline and stunning beaches it makes perfect sense to call the place the 'Ocean State'.
South County [the southern part of the state] has fine sandy beaches, many of them with protective dunes, as well as the stony and rocky kind shores that are the province of walkers.
Some of Rhode Island's best beaches are: Misquamicut State Beach in Westerly, with half a mile of soft sand; Napatree Point with grassy dunes and the Victorian resort of Watch Hill in Washington; the local's favourite swimming spot East Matunuck State Beach, has a glorious view over the dunes of the Succotash Salt Marsh at South Kingstown in Washington; the Ninigret Conservation Area in Charlestown with 1,700-acre saltwater pond is great for both swimming and walking.
Getting there: Drive via Interstate 95, the main east coast major highway from Maine to Florida. Interstate Routes 95 and 195 offer access to most of Rhode Island's major cities from Westerly to Providence to Pawtucket to East Providence


Cape Cod's National Seashore is a little far north to offer perfect, bathing-suit beaches, but is nevertheless home to some of the USA's most attractive coastlines, with an unspoilt, scenic shore that includes 40 miles of fine sandy beaches dotted with woods, rocky bays, handsome seaside towns and lively harbours, with terrific hiking and biking trails. Cape Cod beaches are washed by clean but very chilly waters and the air temperature is generally none too hot either.
If your prime interest is walking, try Gay Head Public Beach in Martha's Vineyard for its spectacular cliff views and hard packed sand. It has also an area set aside for naturists.
Getting there: From Boston take Route 3 south to the Sagamore Bridge in Bourne. Follow Route 6 eastward to Eastham and Provincetown. From Providence, RI take I-95 north to, I-195. Follow Route 6 eastward as above

New Hampshire

Hampton Beach, far from natural but large and clean, this well-developed and lively stretch of soft sand is one of America's most loved beaches, with plenty of action day and night, from music concerts, regattas, and sand sculpting contests to food festivals, so expect large crowds particularly from July to August. There are several state parks with fine beaches and first class golf courses in the area, as well as other entertainment facilities such as cinema and shopping malls.
Getting there: Hampton Beach is 15 miles [24 km] south of Portsmouth

More Australian Beaches

South East Coast [Sydney] - Central East [Brisbane/Gold Coast]: Nov-April for swimming and surfing, though the water isn't exactly warm even then, and sunshine is not guarenteed either, especially in the Sydney area.
Bluebottles [Portugese men of-war] choose this season to visit, particularly if there's an onshore breeze. Warnings will be posted, but locals generally disregard the chance of a close encounter with a few painful nematocysts. Part of the Australian deal, battling nature tooth and claw, but rent a wetsuit if you want to surf with protection.
North East Coast [Cairns & Great Barrier Reef islands]: all year is hot [above 26C] but Jan-March gets some rain and cloud while December-January is crowded and super heated, so April-No v is best for swimming. Scuba divers like Sept-Dec.
South West [Perth] Best Sept-Nov, March-May.
North West [Exmouth, Ningaloo Reef, Broome, Kimberley] Best May-Oct.

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Various tour operators offering tours to Australia can be found in our listings here: Australia Tours

Protection: popular beaches are well provided with lifeguards, safety flags [mostly to keep swimmers away from rips/fierce currents], warning signs and stinger or shark nets where necessary. They are there to protect you so look for their guidance and stay within recommended limits.

Lagoons: The popular tourist towns of Brisbane, Airlie Beach [Whitsundays jumping-off point] and Cairns all have large, free, attractive and critter-free salt-water lagoons to swim in rather than beaches.

Clubs: Some of the best spots on Australia Beaches are occupied by clubs. These offer great value food and drinks as well as superb views and are usable by foreign visitors, so take proof of foreign residence [more than a passport, papers with your name and address are needed] and you will be hosted by the best place in the area.

The sun: There is no point lying around in the sun at midday in Oz. This will not only earn you a place in the melanoma sweepstakes, give you wrinkles and sagging skin at an early age and add an unpleasant red highlight to your tan, but it will probably burn the tan off altogether.
You will brown up more smoothly and lastingly by sunbathing before 11am and after 3pm. And you may live longer too.

Australia is blessed with too many amazing beaches to list, offering some of the world's best surfing, snorkelling, scuba diving, and of course just posing around on soft sand chugging a cool one. In the right season the sun is hot, the sea is cool and the beer is cold. Heaven. However....
The country is also cursed with a staggering collection of deadly creatures, on land and at sea. Not very common, these critters are well-known to locals and treated fairly casually, but visitors used to less hazardous waters should be aware:

Watersports hazards guide:
Don't touch anything you don't recognise as safe!
Consider sand shoes for paddling around beaches and a light Lycra stinger suit or wetsuit for snorkelling or scuba diving if you have a weak heart and are in the stinger zone north of Rockhampton [north of Brisbane and Fraser Island]. Any good tour out to the Barrier Reef or the Whitsunday Islands in season will include stinger suits for swimmers/divers in the package.
Swim inside stinger nets when in the zone.

Seriously nasty Jellyfish:
Box Jellyfish: in the Oct-May jelly season, wear a Lycra 'stinger suit' or wetsuit and keep your eyes peeled to avoid this deadly Mr Blobby. Usually found in deeper water off Australia Beaches so a problem mostly for snorkellers and divers.
They appear to spawn around the Barrier Reef and like warm, no-surf waters so north of Rockhampton are danger zones.
Irukandji Jellyfish: the tiny terror [peanut sized] that prefers deep water but can be swept through [anti] stinger nets by currents.

Blue-ringed octopus: small, cute and occasionally fatal, even when it's washed up on the beach or frolicking in a rock pool. You wouldn't be so dumb as to play with the little chap, but the kids would.

Salt water crocodiles: far more dangerous than sharks, 'salties' hang out where rivers meet the sea, so however hot and sticky you are be extremely cautious about swimming in rivers or in/around estuary beaches, especially if no one else is there or there are warning signs. Freshwater crocs in Australia are not a problem, and since they are eaten by salties too, if they are around then salties probably aren't.

Not nice:
Cone shells: often host a snail with a noxious defensive needle that has killed weak and unwary shell collectors.

Stonefish: almost invisible tucked under sand, their poisonous spines are very potent and may mean a hospital trip. Hot water will disperse the toxins. Sand shoes or reef sandals will usually prevent penetration.

Sharks: overrated in the danger stakes due to bad PR, attacks are usually a case of mistaken identity, when a shark - confused by waves - thinks a surfer is a seal or a swimmer is a skinny and slow tuna fish. You have more chance of being killed by a falling coconut.

Don't be intimidated in spite of all the above, Aussies aren't! If you keep your eyes open and take reasonable precautions you'll have a great time

East Coast Beaches, Australia

Big, clean, soft sandy Australia Beaches can be found all the way up the east coast so we have limited ourselves to some of the more outstanding or popular locations.
Coastal beaches up as far as Brisbane almost all see considerable surf so gentle floating or paddling is not usually an option, though they usually shelve gently so toddlers can still have fun while serious swimmers often head out beyond the wave line to get in their exercise.
The water of Sydney area beaches is not particularly warm, even in midsummer, but reaches a fine temperature towards the Gold Coast.

Various tour operators offering tours to Australia can be found in our listings here: Australia Tours

This page starts in the south - Sydney area - and heads north to Cairns. On a separate page are Great Barrier Reef islands [Fraser, Whitsundays etc.]

Around Sydney [SE coast], both south and north, are many excellent beaches.
Best Nov - April, but Dec, Jan are busy with school holidays and often visited by bluebottles [Portuguese men-of-war jellyfish], though locals don't pay much attention to the odd sting.

Bondi: a half hour train/bus ride from the city gets you to Sydney's long cherished Bondi, a wide strip of soft sand backed by promenade, food and drink establishments and stroked by moderate surf. It's eternally fashionable and can get crowded, naturally.
On the cliffs at either end are two excellent clubs that accept foreigners, North Bondi RSL and Icebergs.
If you feel like a stroll there is a beautiful, breezy coast path going south to three more beaches - Tamarana, Bronte and Clovelly, but beware the rips.
Coogee: further south of Bondi and not dissimilar, this is another superb strand of sand with surf, crowds, eateries galore and a certain elegance.
Manly: this near-city upstart differs from the previous two. It has the same sand, promenade and lifesavers, but access from Sydney will be via a pleasant ferry ride across the harbour, at which point visitors have to choose between a busy, large, attractive surf beach or a quiet, calm harbour beach, favoured by families.
Diving trips also leave from Manly and there are various pretty coastal walks from here.
No-surf swimming: harbour beaches are the main option, with attractive spots such as Camp Cove, Nielsen Park, Balmoral, Chinaman's Beach.

Durras to Broulee: Three hours drive south of Sydney are a series of fine, picturesque beaches offering good fishing, kayaking, jet skiing [Long beach], diving and bush walks as well as the usual swimming and surfing.

Coffs Harbour: 8 hours north of Sydney and 7 hours south of Brisbane, the hitherto attractive coastline now grows more bungalows and resort hotels than bananas, but still has good beaches. The town's raison d'être however, is action sports, with white-water rafting [Nov-Feb], kayaking, abseiling, mountain biking, horse riding, parasailing, skydiving, jet skiing, fishing, whale watching [June, July, September, November] in addition to all the usual suspects.

Byron Bay: 10 hours north of Sydney or 5 south of Brisbane, Byron Bay is a unique haven of stylish, relaxed, low-key living in a stunningly beautiful area, with superb beaches to match. Locals, though different in many ways are united in their liberal, 'alternative', anti-crass development view of the world and the town is all the better for that attitude.
The Bay beach is scenic and big enough for swimmers, early surfers and pro dudes to each find the kind of water they need to wag their tails, while white-water rafting [Nov-Feb], mountain biking, horse riding, skydiving among other alternatives are also on offer.

Gold Coast: An hour from Brisbane the endless sand, terrific climate and entertainment 24/7 have made the Gold Coast a prime world holiday destination.
Surfer's Paradise is at the core of this area, Australia's answer to Miami - a long, skinny strip of glitz packed with bronzed buildings, theme parks in excess and a wild night life, but still sporting spectacular, soft sand beaches. Arguably the best beach is Main, soft, wide and backed by dunes, with perma-surf a short stagger away.
Surf at Main Beach is usually excellent for beginners and hosts a couple of good schools; surf freaks head south for the relative quiet and superb point breaks at Coolangatta/Tweed Heads. Needless to say rental boards are available all over.

Near Brisbane [central east coast] Best Oct - April, but Dec - Feb is busy:
North Stradbroke Island: Brisbane is an hour's drive from the coast and has no beaches but does offer a fantastic artificial lagoon on the South Bank.
Moreton Bay is Brisbane's coastal area and after a bus or train from the centre a ferry will take you the 20km [12m] to the bay's biggest and best island, North Stradbroke, with its miles of pretty, surf smashed sand. It's quiet in all but school holidays and has lovely swimmable blue inland freshwater lakes and many miles of green wildlife walks.
There's no shortage of accommodation and other facilities, including scuba dive trips and kayaking.
32km Main Beach offers mainline surfers serious action, particularly around November.
Whale watchers will enjoy the Gorge Walk June-September, while Point Lookout has a collection of the island's best beaches with plenty of marine life visible.

Sunshine Coast: The same endless sand and surf as Gold Coast, but with a bit more sunshine [300 days a year] and a lot less glamour, tourists, high rise and action.
Noosa Heads is an especially calm, affluent, low-profile resort, mixing superb strands of sand with lots of tropical greenery, trendy shops, flower entangled houses and slightly high prices. Noosa National Park is the most visited park in the country with well marked tracks and lots of wildlife around, including koalas.
The best beaches are east of the park on bare-ass naked Alexandria Bay, but Noosa's Main Beach, beside their funkiest street, Hastings, is big, soft, pretty and family friendly.
Little Cove is where neo-surfers practise with some of the area's famous surf schools while National Park and Tea Tree have the best waves and the biggest crowds.
Just north of Noosa is huge and pretty Rainbow Beach, where 4WD drives roam free.

North East Australian Coast, best April - November, but OK [hot] all year round. Best scuba diving Sept-Dec:

Airlie Beach: Backpacker central, the town is small, as is the beach, but the adverts are huge, for Airlie is the main route to the Whitsunday Islands.
Airlie is another lucky town with a free, fantastic and beautifully landscaped salt-water lagoon on the shore. All sorts of dive/snorkel/fish/wildlife walk packages are available and nightlife is lively.

Whitsunday Islands: Airlie Beach is take-off point for extremely popular Whitsunday Islands cruises - whether by sailing yacht or motor vessel. The Whitsundays offer reasonably sheltered boating among pine-clad islands with, azure seas, good coral viewing via snorkel or regulator and some magnificent white powder beaches. Whitehaven Beach is the best known and possibly Australia's best beach. We do not recommend day trips out to Whitehaven from Airlie, they involve too much cost and excessive boat-time, but a several-day boat trip or staying out at one of the islands e.g. Hamilton hotels or Whitehaven camping would be excellent.

Mission Beach: Miles of gorgeous sand backed by cassowary [a large, colourful, flightless bird] infested rainforest. This beautiful, little developed area is popular with backpackers and has various islands [including Dunk, see GBR page] and excellent coral reef diving not far off shore. Other activities include riding horses on the beach, hiking the rainforest, white-water rafting and kayaking.

Cairns: This is not a beach resort but a wide-ranging activity centre, like Queenstown in NZ. The town is lively, action packed and very touristy, with loads of watering holes, shops and eateries.
Thanks to expensive and considerate redevelopment, Cairns foreshore now offers an attractive tree-lined esplanade, a terrific kids playground and an exceptional salt-water lagoon [swimming pool] in place of the dangerous and muddy 'beach'.
Trips from Cairns go north to the rainforest, west to cool uplands and east to the Great Barrier Reef. Action could mean skydiving, ballooning, mountain biking, white-water rafting, jet boating or a scuba course - starting in Cairns, finishing on the Barrier Reef.
If you really need proper beaches then a short bus ride will get you to the white sands and coves of Trinity Beach or go to Port Douglas. Beware saltwater crocodiles in mangroves and rivers near the sea.

Port Douglas: An hour or so north of Cairns is this cute little town fronted by lovely Four Mile Beach. Port Douglas has less accommodation and entertainment than Cairns but more or less the same daytime activity offerings, including dive trips, though the town is a lot less frenetic and the beach is a lot more pleasant.

Lagoons: The popular tourist towns of Brisbane, Airlie Beach [Whitsundays jumping-off point] and Cairns all have large, free, attractive and critter-free salt-water lagoons to swim in rather than beaches.

Clubs: Some of the best spots on Australia Beaches are occupied by clubs. These offer great value food and drinks as well as superb views and are usable by foreign visitors, so take proof of foreign residence [more than a passport, papers with your name and address are needed] and you will be hosted by the best place in the area

Devon Beaches, UK Best, England

On England's south coast, west of Dorset and east of Cornwall is Devon, a mostly quiet, rural county embracing about 60 beaches; on both north [generally less protected, windier and with more surf] and south [quieter, calmer but still some surfing done] coasts. Here are a few favourites:

North Devon

Woolacombe Bay in North Devon is a spectacular and lengthy [2.5 miles/4kms] stretch of sand with many awards for cleanliness - including the coveted Blue Flag - and a reputation for great surfing, particularly when the tide is in, but also plenty of family assets such as loads of sand, rock pools trapping interesting marine life and some quiet areas of water for toddler splashing.
Woolacombe village hosts all the essentials - surf shops, kit rental, cafés and a good selection of accommodation ranging from camping and B & Bs to holiday apartments and hotels.
When tourists are tired of beaches the North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is the place to go walking; the South-West Coast Path runs along the shore. In addition, north of Woolacombe are a cluster of pretty coves if somehow Woolacombe doesn't suit. Get there on the A361, 6 miles southwest of Ilfracombe

Ilfracombe offers the peculiar The Tunnels Beaches, a Victorian development where four hand-carved tunnels lead to private sheltered beaches with an adjacent large tidal, rock pool that is very popular with kids and supervised by a lifeguard.
There are plenty of other smaller rock pools too, as well as facilities such as shop, bar, play hut, café and sea kayak hire. Open 10am - 6pm April-June,Sept-Oct and 9am - 9pm July and August. Recently entry costs £1.95 per adult, £1.50 per child, free for kids under 3; family deals available.

Westward Ho! hosts a great all-round beach environment with two miles of soft beige sand, beach huts, café, toilets and lifeguards. Part of the beach is good for surfing or windsurfing, watersports kit is readily available and, as usual, the gorgeous South-West Coast Path is a great draw for hikers. Get there from Bideford via the A29 - A386 - B3236

Salcombe is an olde-world, friendly little town dropping steeply to the yachtie harbour and scattered with both interesting little sea food restaurants and clean, sandy beaches - North Sands and South Sands beside the town and East Portlemouth across the estuary by ferry, though South Sands does not permit dogs May-September.
Salcombe is an active place - we suppose because you would be fit walking up and down that slope day in, day out - and offers sporting types sailing, scuba, sea kayak, surfing and powerboat classes and rentals

Bantham is an attractive, thatched-roof village with an inviting bay 4 miles west of Kingsbridge [off the A379], offering a relatively un-commercial, Blue Flag beach with a few facilities in the summertime, including a lifeguard, though toilets and eating places are in the village a few hundred yards away.
The bay provides modest surf, many kid-friendly rock pools and adult-friendly coastal walks

Blackpool Sands is known for its space, family ambience and lush natural backdrop or woods and fields.

Paignton Sands offers an unusual red sand beach washed by placid, shallow waters and scattered with child-friendly activities including kayak hire and boat trips from the interesting little harbour.

Nudism: It is not illegal to strip off and do the beach thing in the nude anywhere in Britain. The problem is if someone complains...However, British Naturism lists some fine beaches in Devon where the nude life is either unofficially commonplace or officially permitted.

UK Water Quality: The Marine Conservation Society [MCS] has published a Good Beach Guide. Britain has less recommended beaches this year, probably due to contamination as a result of heavy rains washing pollutants into the sea. MCS suggests that you avoid ALL beaches within 24 hours of heavy storms. Conveniently you can download a free, best-beach listing sat-nav plug-in.
High Water Quality beaches in 2009:
Devon: Ilfracombe Tunnels, Woolacombe, Putsborough Sands, Westward Ho!, Hartland Quay.
FAILED Water Quality 2009: Devon, Instow

Cornwall Beaches, UK Best, England

The best British county for beaches after Dorset is probably Cornwall, the far south-west wedge of UK territory thriving on relatively good weather [though a tendency towards warm but wet], excellent walks [especially impressive is the South West Coast Path] if clouds gather and relaxed locals. Cornwall embraces two differing coastlines:
- North Cornwall is a rugged, weather-beaten coast, supposed home to King Arthur in Tintagel, along with smugglers and wreckers originally, but now the province of surfers and other adrenalin freaks taking advantage of lengthy beaches, good winds and consistent Atlantic surf, while in the summertime young party people wreck themselves in the pubs and bars while locals smuggle their rage home.
- South Cornwall tends to be more suited to families with toddlers, with its charming little fishing villages, many characterful coves, soft sand, and generally shallow, protected waters though surf happens there too in a more limited way

South Cornwall's best beach, and probably Britain's best is - in our humble opinion - Porthcurno, with its fine white sand, aquamarine seaweed-free waters and dramatic rock protection. The gradual shelving sand is family-friendly, the summertime lifeguard is a cool attentive dude and there's a pretty good café nearby. The South West Coast Path is nearby for hikers or adventurous beach walkers can get to next door Green Bay or on to the bay below Logan Rock if the tide is not too high.
Crappy, tourist trappy Land's End is a few minutes away by car for those who wish to visit one end of Britain and consider the state and style of local politics [Dumb, grasping local councils busily helping developers despoil the green and pleasant land that was England in exchange for taxes and who knows what other favours...

More fine sands can be found at Cornwall's Kynance Cove on the right tip of the Lizard Peninsula, though the spectacular rock formations somewhat impede beach-goers from spreading out on the sand when the tide is in.
Access to Kynance beach involves a 10 minute walk down steps from the car park or an eon depending on how many shrieking rug rats you are dragging, but once there it's a beach of good kid interest with caves, cliff walks, tiny flowers, strange rock shapes and comfortable grass to mellow out on, instead of the grey-white sand that tends to get into every crevice. An excellent little café [picture right] looks after lunches; no dogs allowed. Head for Lizard village and you'll see Kynance signs pointing right just before the village appears.

Marazion, within shouting distance of St Michael's Mount, is a lovely little town lined with a massive flat beach of sand/pebbles depending on what the tide brought in, with magnificent views of the sometimes island of Michael. Marazion is just 10 minutes drive from Penzance and en route for Kynance Cove

Whitesand Bay, also near Land's End, pretty obviously offers fine white sand but also manages to appeal to both families and surfers, with a selection of facilities including surf schools and kit hire, cafés and a pleasant Inn, the 'Old Success'.
At the other end of the beach are the grassy dunes of bumptious Sennen Cove, one of the great surfing, kayaking and even climbing spots in Cornwall, with a fine beach restaurant to boot, though the picture above taken in wobbly summer weather doesn't convey the true spirit of the place. Probably

North Cornwall's best known town is Newquay, conveniently close to the UK's best accessible surf, especially the rollers found at Fistral - where surf competitions regularly take place and currents run strong - or Watergate Bay a couple of miles north, both windy locations and much loved by adrenalin junkies pursuing varied mad activities, though both areas also sport some fine restaurants with spectacular views and outdoor seating.
Newquay has recently become notorious for young-blood nightlife that has a habit of getting waaaay out of control and comprehensively turning the town centre into a rampant, raucous, vomit-stained rubbish dump between the hours of 10pm and whatever.

Another excellent surf spot on the north coast is Polzeath, enjoyed by seals and dolphins too on a good day. Adjacent to great hiking trials too, Polzeath is on the point opposite Padstow [home to Rick Stein property empire and many second homes of rich city folk, off the B3314 road

St Ives, North Cornwall, is a much more sedate town than Newquay though still offers good surf on Porthmeor beach, great views from many locations, attractive flower displays [the town is a frequent Britain in Bloom winner], great sea food and broad cultural interest including the Tate St. Ives museum - part of the London Tate Gallery - the Barbara Hepworth sculpture museum and the two-week September Arts Festival that hosts music, poetry, literature and fine art.

Nudism: It is not illegal to strip off and do the beach thing in the nude anywhere in Britain. The problem is if someone complains...However, British Naturism lists some fine beaches in Cornwall where the nude life is either unofficially commonplace or officially permitted.

UK Water Quality: The Marine Conservation Society [MCS] has published a Good Beach Guide. Britain has less recommended beaches this year, probably due to contamination as a result of heavy rains washing pollutants into the sea. MCS suggests that you avoid ALL beaches within 24 hours of heavy storms. Conveniently you can download a free, best-beach listing sat-nav plug-in.
High Water Quality beaches in 2009:
Cornwall: Newquay's 4 beaches, St Ives x 3, Porthcurno, Mounts Bay x 4, Bude [Sandymouth], Widemouth Sand, Crackington Haven, Trebarwith Sand, Mother Ivey's Bay, Constantine Bay, Lusty Glaze, Holywell Bay, Perran Sands, Perranporth x 2, and many more.
FAILED Water Quality Summer 2009, Cornwall: Bude -Summerleaze; Crinnis Beach - Golf Links, East Looe; Par, St Austell

Dorset Beaches, UK Best, England

British beaches are mainly found in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall counties, in the south-west of England, since sand is abundant and the weather and waters tend to be warmer there due to the latitude.
Dorset is also favoured by the prevailing southwesterly winds bouncing over chalk cliffs to create a drier micro-climate stretching from Highcliffe, through Bournemouth and along Dorset's 95 miles of UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coast as far as Devon. In addition this year's official water quality guide gives Dorset a 100% pass whereas Cornwall and Devon have a handful of failures.

Chesil Beach and Portland Harbour seen from Portland, Chesil is the biggest and most impressive stretch of beach in the UK at 19 miles long, and the oldest at 6,000 years [give or take a few centuries] but...

Chesil is a barrier/storm beach, with pebbles [larger near to Portland and positively petite near 16thC Abbotsbury village and its famous swannery in the east] for seating or awkward walking, a steeply shelving slope to the sea, erratic winds, brutal waves and unsafe undertow current. Nor are the slippery, sinking stones good for a walk. However, Chesil does a good job protecting lowland Weymouth and Fleet lagoon from the sea. But 10 minutes away by car is...

...the next serious stretch of kid-friendly seaside at Weymouth, a lively tourist town, with shingle at one end of the long strand, manicured sand at the other, clear waters, a wide promenade, some attractive Victorian buildings and plenty of traditional British beach activities

Finally, for those who like a bit of a treasure hunt with their beach-going, in West Dorset the beaches of Church Cliffs, Seatown, Thorncombe, Beacon and Charmouth are the heart of the Jurassic Coast, an area loaded with fossils [especially ammonites] going back 185 million years; walking tours are organised by the Heritage Coast Centre.
Nearby, pretty little Lyme Regis is the last town before Devon, in addition to being the UK's fossil capital

Nudist Beaches: It is not illegal to strip off and do the beach thing in the nude anywhere in Britain. The problem is if someone complains...However, here are a couple of great beaches in Dorset where the nude life is either unofficially commonplace or officially permitted.
Studland beach, a large and sandy nature reserve beach with many grassy dunes. Just across Poole Harbour entrance from Sandbanks via the ferry.
Hengistbury Head, below the rock outcrop.
Cogden Beach.

UK Water Quality: The Marine Conservation Society has published a Good Beach Guide based on results from last summer. Britain has less recommended beaches this year, probably due to contamination as a result of heavy rains washing sewage, petrochemicals and agricultural products into the sea. MCS suggests that you choose to bathe on beaches with a good water quality record but also avoid ALL beaches within 24 hours of heavy storms. Conveniently you can also download a free satellite navigation software plug-in.
High Water Quality beaches this year:
Dorset: Practically all beaches from Southbourne west to Charmouth are highly recommended.

Red Sea, Egypt, North Africa

Best: Sept - May. It rarely [i.e. almost never] rains so humidity is very low; it'll be T-shirt days and sweatered winter nights.
Worst: Christmas and Easter school holidays [overpriced and overcrowded] June-Sept [heat].
The air temperature in this region ranges from about 30°C in May [26°C at night] and water temperature of 24°C, to 20°C in February [16°C at night] and water temperature of 20°C.
The hottest month - uncomfortably so, is August, 42 °C in February [33°C at night] and water temperature of 28°C .

The Red Sea

A mere five hours direct flight from the UK, the Red Sea gets almost certain sunshine all day long, some warmish waters, world-beating Red Sea coral and marine life coupled with modest prices, and some fair beaches - ironically in this country that's 98% desert the sand is coarse and beaches tend to be small. The best beaches are artificial and mostly on the mainland [Hurghada] side.

Red Sea Resorts:

Sharm el Sheikh and other Red Sea resorts are now victims of their own success with the biggest problem being how to avoid being part of a milling, mooing herd from dawn to dusk.

Windsurfing off Dahab, Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea, Egypt.

Red Sea beach resorts lurk on both sides of the sea, on the east side and part of the Sinai peninsula is the long established Sharm el Sheikh and its neo-hippy counterpart, Dahab. This side has activity options outside the resorts, such as trips to St Catherine's monastery, colourful rock canyons or even Israel and Jordan are not a huge drive away.
On the west [mainland] coast of the Red Sea lies relatively old and touristy Hurghada [not a pretty sight] and a cluster of new resort towns that are resolutely inward-looking and uncultured but nevertheless can provide good value, guaranteed sun, sand and sea holidays.

Hurghada on the Red Sea's west coast is a 30km string of resorts with no urban heart, unless you call a short parade of fast food joints, Sky TV pubs and tacky souvenir shops a worthwhile organ. i.e. if you choose to holiday in Hurgada then accept that you'll be in the hotel, on the beach or in the sea, unless you take a trip across to Luxor.

Hurghada, a fishing village just 30 years ago is now a chaotic mass of zero-style cement blocks unless you happen to be staying in an exclusive resort in which case forget the town, enjoy your little paradise, it will be good value, the sun will doubtless shine all day every day and the diving/snorkelling will be superb, unless you bump into jellyfish.
The wreck of the Sha'ab Abu Nuhas is a famous dive nearby or the islands of Giftun and Abu Ramada are good for easier coral and fish gazing.
Hurghada is on Egypt's west Red Sea coast, more or less opposite Sharm el Sheikh which is on the south tip of the Sinai peninsula.

Sharm el Sheikh, on the other hand and on the Sinai side of the Red Sea, more upmarket than Hurghada and with excellent watersports facilities does have a plausible, lively tourist centre in Na'ama Bay, though it's still short of laid-back Egyptness and the suburbs are a half-developed wasteland.
Apart from sunbathing Sharm's raison d'etre is scuba diving, with two prime sites attracting most of the dive boats - the Strait of Tiran in the north and Ras Mohammed in the south. The best dive locations may take up to two hours to reach though good snorkelling places are close by.
How to avoid the dive crowds? Start really early or spend a few days on a live-aboard dive boat that will anchor in just the right place at the right time. Live-aboards sail from Sharm el Sheikh, Hurghada and newly developed Marsa Alam [south of Hurghada on the Egyptian mainland].

Dahab, north of Sharm el Sheikh and heading up the Gulf of Aqaba, is the Red Sea's most relaxed and natural resort/village with some lovely small hotels and restaurants and clusters of neo-hippies to prove it, though as the place develops they will doubtless be exiled and the charm will be cemented over. Next stop Aqaba?
Dahab also offers great snorkelling and diving, including immediately offshore, but the beaches are miserable.

Other newish, still developing Red Sea tourist resorts can be found in the Gulf of Aqaba at Nuweiba [picture below] and Taba, or north of Hurghada at El Gouna and south of Hurghada at Makadi Bay, El Quseir and Marsa Alam.

email from Henry:
We made one excursion from Dahab to the Greek Orthodox monastery of Saint Catherine which is built around the burning bush from where Moses supposedly heard God speak to him. The bush is still there even though much of it has been hacked away by zealous pilgrims. The monastery continues to be inhabited by a number of Greek Orthodox monks so it is only open for visitors for a couple of hours a day. When we arrived there were already coach loads of impatient tourists waiting to go in. Eventually, the doors opened they barged their way in. We hung back waiting for things to calm down and entered when most people were already leaving. It didn’t give us much time, but at least we were left to walk around its cobbled streets relatively in peace.
Dahab is a very different from the rest of Egypt. Less than 30 years ago it was just a collection of huts and cabanas that the Bedouin used to rent out to travelers and young Israelis. Now it is much more developed with lots of hotels, restaurants, shops and scuba diving establishments. To be quite honest it is not really my scene, but my family loved it.

Sinai desert bedouin, Egypt.


Bedouin are nomadic desert people of different tribes spread over North Africa and the Middle-East and frequently found in the Sinai peninsula. They are courageous, self-sufficient and offer extreme hospitality to other desert travellers - unless of course they have a grudge in which case the traveller will become dog meat pretty quickly.
A popular bedou saying is 'I against my brothers, I and my brothers against my cousins, I and my brothers and my cousins against the world'.
A common mistake: Bedou is the singular form of the Arabic noun, bedouin the plural just as fellah [peasant farmer] is singular and fellaheen is plural.