French Riviera, Copacabana, Miami Beach... We all know them and most of us dream to spend our vacation there. I'm not much of a beach person - but not because I don't like beaches, I do - what I dislike is lying at the swimming pools for entire two weeks in plastic resorts that basically seem to be copies of one another everywhere you go. I prefer to explore, discover some new, seemingly unattractive destinations. What can be better than a secluded, unspoiled beach surrounded by white rocks without hundreds of tightly squeezed sunbeds and drunken crowds - where you can feel as if it was your own? Or a cozy coastal town no one knows of - where you can enjoy authentic cuisine and original architecture? In this list I'd like to present beautiful, interesting and exciting beaches and towns that never or hardly ever make it to the western mainstream media.
The cover photo from top left: Ksamil in Albania, Reynisfjara Beach in Iceland, Georgian Alphabet Monument in Georgia, Keem Beach in Ireland.
Watch the youtube video and scroll down to see the list:
10. Batumi, Georgia
The coastal town of Batumi is located in the subtropical part of Georgia which boasts lush green hills, tea plantations and ubiquitous date palm and banana trees. The Black Sea is beautifully clear and blue. From the beaches in Batumi you can also admire the stunning Caucasian Mountains covered with snow. But the real attraction here is the architecture - it's ultra modern and colorful. Every palm tree, monument and building is illuminated at night, it's the most colorful town I've seen in my life. Don't miss the moving statues - love monument!
9. Avaza, Turkmenistan
This is probably a place none of you have ever heard about. Avaza is a controversial tourist zone with high class hotels and resorts along the beaches of the Caspian Sea in Turkmenistan. It looks like mini-Dubai and is probably the most peculiar holiday spot on the planet. When we visited Avaza, out of season, in November (on the way to spectacular Yangykala Canyons), it seemed like a ghost town - we were the only tourists in a huge 5-star hotel. We always choose guesthouses but in Turkmenistan you have to sleep wherever the tourist office decides.
The whole area resembles a construction site with extremely modern buildings (even bus stops are a piece of art). It's clear it was created to impress! The founders of this tourist zone seem to care about details so much that they hire people to wash the streetlamps and sweep the roads manually!
I'll write about our impressions of Avaza in the future, meanwhile have a look at what you can see in the mysterious country of Turkmenistan.
8. Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland
Reynisfjara Beach in Iceland is not the way paradise beaches are shown in vacation brochures - it has completely black sand and surely you won't want to take a swim in the freezing Icelandic waters! But it's the black color and silver-gray basalt columns that make it so unique and way more exciting than any other boring ordinary beach!
Quite a few music videos were filmed here as well as Hollywood Movies - The Noah, for example.
Soon I will describe the black beaches in Iceland.
7. Sveti Stefan, Montenegro
Sveti Stefan is a tiny island near the town of Budva. It used to be an amazing attraction for anyone who traveled to Montenegro, however, unfortunately, due to increase in the number of tourists, now Sveti Stefan is a privately owned and you can admire it only from the shore. The beach around it has pinkish color and to stay there you must rent a sunbed for 50 EUR!
Nevertheless, Sveti Stefan is still relatively unknown in the west. If you want to visit the other beaches from this list while they're still unspoiled - hurry up! Probably most of them will loose its free status, just like Sveti Stefan, and in the near future will become a construction site for overcrowded resorts.
I'll write soon about Budva and Sveti Stefan.
6. Dead Sea, Jordan
Dead Sea beaches are not the most attractive visually, but probably the most interesting. Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth (nearly 1,400/420 m ft. below sea level). Moreover, due to high content of salt it's virtually impossible to drown in it! You can easily float on your back lifted by the sea itself. Don't miss the mud treatment! It's exciting!
5. Yalta, Crimea
The disputed territory between Ukraine/Russia appeared a lot on the news recently, but for the wrong reasons. Politics aside, it's sad that western media never depict Yalta as a beautiful, popular coastal town surrounded by spectacular cliffs, mountains and blue waters of the Black Sea.
The main attraction, however is the Swallow's Nest - a castle perched on a high cliff with amazing views of the sea - it looks as if it was taken directly from a Disney film.
4. Porto de Galinhas, Brazil
Forget about Copacabana in Rio - when you see Porto de Galinhas you'll say this is the real paradise! Very few foreign tourists actually make it to Porto de Galinhas which gives the town and the area much more authentic, local touch.
The beaches are beautiful, water crystal clear and the pools made naturally by coral reefs are full of fish that you can feed and swim with! One of my favorite beaches in Brazil.
3. Keem Beach, Ireland
Ireland is never though of as a beach destination but when you visit Achill Island and the tropical looking Keem Beach, you'll change your mind!
Turquoise water, golden sand and surrounding rocks make this cove look like a little paradise. It's the most beautiful and literally unknown among tourist beach on the Emerald Island. If you love off the beaten path places - don't miss it!
2. Lakshadweep Islands, India
Lakshadweep Islands are the true definition of paradise. A copy of Maldives, but it with unspoiled, crystal clear sea, only one modest resort, no segregated beaches - the whole island is just for you to explore freely. Visit the local little village, coconut factory, take a swim with turtles and do some diving and snorkeling among coral reefs. All this with zero percent of posh and ostentatious hotels but with one hundred percent of adventure, authenticity and... pure paradise!
1. Ksamil, Albania
Very few tourists end up in Albania. Paradise, white sand beaches with clearest possible turquoise waters, fresh superb food and accommodation at extremely low prices - it's all what they miss. Not too mention no foreign tourists equals much more authentic, local feeling.
Ksamil is a paradise in the heart of Europe. But it's changing slowly - visit it in June or September to avoid too many people. I think, unfortunately, it will become the second Corfu soon - overcrowded with holiday makers nearby Greek island which is not nearly as attractive as Albanian coast.
Nevertheless, if Ksamil is too crowded for you, you can always head north to other completely unspoiled beaches and towns of Albanian Riviera!
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