Best Summer Destinations
Summer is soon approaching and we're all starting to make our plans and the biggest question is always where to go?
I have put together a list of destinations to give you some ideas and hopefully encourage you to visit at least one of them. There is no order of preference but I do think that once you reach the last one you will realise that you want to go to all of them....
Get your bikini/swimsuit and sun cream ready and let’s hit the beach!
Ibiza, also known as Eivissa in Catalan, is one of my favourite summer destinations at heart, mainly because I have been going there since I was a child and also because I lived there for 7 years with my family during my teens.
Don't be put off by the party scene if you are looking for a quiet holiday because the island has so much more to offer: beautiful beaches, charming towns and great local restaurants. Of course, if you do want a livelier holiday with friends then this is the right place to go as Ibiza still remains one of the best destinations for a good time out and offers a wide variety of music/clubs/beach bars to please everyone’s taste.
My favourite beaches are Cala Compte and Cala Jondal (as pictured). The beaches on the southwest side of the island are sandy with clear turquoise water whereas towards the north you will find little wild rocky bays. You mustn’t miss out on the view of Es Vedrà from the beach Cala D'Hort, the famous mysterious rocky island. There are many myths and legends of Es Vedrà as it’s one of the strongest magnetic points on our planet… For the best paella on the island go to the beach restaurant on Sa Caleta!
Spend a late afternoon or evening wandering around the cobblestone streets of Dalt Vila, the old town of Ibiza (UNESCO World Heritage Site), especially to admire the magnificent views over the port from the top.
You cannot go to Ibiza without hopping over to Formentera which is only accessible by boat (25 minutes ferry from Ibiza port). This island is a true paradise, the beaches consist of fine white sand and the crystal clear sea has magnificent shades of turquoise and emerald . When living in Europe, there is no need for long distance flights to the Caribbean when you have Formentera!
When living in Europe, Morocco is the perfect destination to go to for a big culture change due to its proximity. I am in awe with this country's architecture, wonderful colours, food and endless mosaics.
Essaouira is a small fisherman’s town under 3 hours away from Marrakech (buses on a daily basis from Marrakech but do book your tickets in advance). This charming town on the Atlantic coast is all in white and blue with endless little streets to get lost in, especially with all the little shops and souks (remember to barter for everything). There are small fish shacks along the port where you can choose your fish & seafood and they grill it for you. You must definitely try a pastilla, which is a delicious sweet and savoury pastry with slow cooked shredded meat inside and a coating of almonds, cinnamon and sugar on the outside. During the day you can go surfing, kitesurfing or even ride a camel along the beach.
I coincidently went during the Gnaoua music festival and it was an amazing experience. I truly recommend this period to any of you wishing to visit Essaouira. Dates change every year so make sure you check the program in advance (entrance is free). During the festival many people are dancing on the streets in their traditional clothing and there are serval stages set up around the town – my favourite one was on the beach.
I am a big fan of the Balearic Islands and I been to Majorca a lot of times as I have several friends living there. Also known as Mallorca in Catalan, it’s the largest island of the Balearics so you can expect a big diversity between the north, the south, the east and the west.
Palma is the capital of Mallorca and also of all the other Balearic Islands and is renowned for La Seu, its magnificent cathedral which was built on an Arab mosque. There are many trendy restaurants to choose from on the street Avinguda de l’Argentina where all the locals go.
The north side of the island is my favourite as it has some extremely beautiful beaches and the Serra de Tramuntana mountain chain is just a wonderful landscape to see (UNESCO World Heritage Site). There are some lovely charming towns to wander around such as Banyalbufar, Pollença, Alcúdia and Valldemossa which is my personal favourite.
I have visited many places in Turkey but I must say that the southwest coast is absolutely stunning and one of my favourites. I have particularly chosen to list Kalkan as it is less renowned than Fethiye, for example (even if of course they are both just as wonderful). I was told about the beach of Kaputas and was just wrapped by its beauty once I got there. The shades of blue of the sea are just magical and it is definitely one of the most stunning beaches I’ve seen. Kas is another lovley little town to visit not far away.
I recommend flying to Antalya and renting a car to drive along the coastline towards Fethiye as there are many wonderful beaches and ancient roman ruins to visit (Patara, Olympos, Kekova, Demre). Don’t forget to try a gozleme which is a delicious potato pancake with a variety of fillings – my favourite is with spinach and feta.
Mexico is such an amazing country for its very friendly people, its delicious guacamole and ceviche and its stunning beaches and ancient Maya temples. Tulum, located on the Eastern coast, is one of my personal preferences as the beach is kilometers long and is made up of fine white sand. Hotels are hidden behind palm trees and all kept in the same style to avoid a concrete layout such as Cancun. This is the hippie-chic are of the Yucatan peninsula and has become a hotspot in the past few years.
A visit to the beautiful Mayan ruins of Tulum by the sea is an absolute must.
Another cool adventure is a day trip to the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, also known as the ‘Origin of the Sky’ by the Mayans. It is one of the largest protected areas in the country and it’s renowned for its vast tropical rainforest and endless species of birds. Tours from Tulum take you on a jeep all the way to Punta Allen along a bumpy dirt track and from there you go on a small fisherman’s boat along the mangrove canals where you will see alligators. After a lovely lunch on the beach you are then taken on a speedboat to go dolphin watching. I found this trip into pure nature absolutely breathtaking.
Cenotes are exceptional underground water caves that are unique in the world so you cannot leave without visiting at least one of them. There are many different types of cenotes but I personally recommend the Cenote Multun Ha and the Cenote Dos Ojos (ideal for scuba diving) which are both close to Tulum.
This small bohemian surfer town is located in the south of Spain in Andalusia and is so picturesque. It is very popular among Spanish people and international kite surfers. You can see the Moroccan influences in this town, particularly with is architecture of white buildings.
Due to its climate and windy conditions, this is one of the world’s hotspots for kitesurfing so if you have never tried it before you should take a beginner’s course – there are many kitesurfing schools in Tarifa to choose from.
What is so amazing about Tarifa is that you can see the north coast of Morocco so clearly as if it were only a swim away. You can take a 20 minutes ferry across to Tangier for a cultural day away in a completely different environment. Spend a day wandering around the medina, the old town and little streets. Ignore all the men waiting at the port trying to offer a guided tour and if you are a girl remember to cover up properly. I felt rather uncomfortable in shorts and had to buy a pair of trousers once I was there... My highlight when I’m in Morocco tends to be the moments when I have a couscous or a tagine so do give it a try.
Cassis is a wonderful small town with a lovely port and its architecture is typically of the South of France.
Between Cassis and Marseille there are many different calenques to visit. Calenques are narrow inlets that have been formed by corrosion of sea or rivers inland and the result is breathtaking, I did not expect it to be so beautiful. The sea is turquoise blue and crystal clear.
As the Calenques National Park is a protected area, most of the calenques are only accessible by foot or by sea (boat or kayak). By sea is the preferable option as you can imagine how hot it gets in the summer if you then have to walk for hours in the dry heat to reach the beaches... We rented a kayak at Port-Miou and went all the around to the Calenque d’en Vau, it was a really fun day.
There is a beautiful drive along the route des Crêtes between Cassis and la Ciotat with amazing panoramic views form the top of the cliffs. You can even go by foot or by bike if you are up for it. The Cap Canaille (363m high) is one of the tallest sea cliffs in Europe and the views are just magnificent. It’s the ideal spot for a sunset aperitif!
You can access the Calenque de Sormiou by car if you eat at the restaurant Le Château. It’s a win-win situation as the food is delicious and you save yourself a 2h walk or more (one way) in the sun. Try the Marmite du Pêcheur or the Bouillabaisse which are specialties of the region!
This beautiful little surfer town in the north of Brazil is a great place to visit during the summer. Weather conditions are ideal all year round in comparison to the southern parts of the country where it can get rather cold. The Praia do Madeiro is stunning and the best part is that there are usually dolphins in the sea that are ready to join you whilst you surf or paddleboard. Another beautiful beach is Baia dos Golfinhos which, as its name suggest (Dolphin's Bay), is another excellent spot to watch dolphins swim and dive in their natural habitat.
Biarritz is renowned as the chic surfer town on the French Atlantic coast. The main difference with all of the other places listed above is the weather as its very irregular in Biarritz, one minute its sunny and the next it’s raining… and the wind picks up and drops down all the time.
However, despite the irregular weather, there is so much to do in this wonderful region. Obviously surfing is one of the main attractions but please remember that the currents and tide are very strong here, more than I have ever experienced, so if you are a beginner then do take a surf lesson with an instructor and if you’re a pro well then you’re free to ride as you wish. You can also rent a bike and go cycling along the small windy roads inland and visit charming towns, such as Ainhoa and Sare. There are some amazing restaurants in the region so do be prepared for a gastronomical Basque adventure.
As you are not far from Spain, a visit to San Sebastian for the day is worthwhile. You can either drive there (approx. 1 hour) or get a train from Hendaye. On the week of the 15th of August, known as the Semana Grande, there are huge firework displays for the International Fireworks Competition. I have never seen such an impressive firework display in my life, it lasted for nearly an hour and the whole sky was lit and full of colours, very magical…
What's your favourite summer destination?