Atlantic Ocean waters tend to be cool and rough,
unless protected by a reef.
Essaouira is a tranquil, fortified town popular with independent travelers. The
sand stretches 10 km down to the sand dunes of Cap Sim but is dun coloured and frequently windy. Essaouira has a relaxed
atmosphere, local colour and far less hassles than the absurdly non-Moroccan beach resort of Agadir. Best
June-Sept. OK May & Oct. Avoid winter time.
Spain's great value Atlantic Ocean Canary Islands beaches have dedicated pages. Also there is Spain north coast. In contrast to the dry and sandy coastline of Andalusia, the rugged, rocky Costa Verde (Green Coast) and Costa Vasca offers some of the most scenic and unspoilt beaches in Spain, not yet overpowered by mass-tourism.
On the west side of France the Atlantic coast has some great stretches of soft sand
(e.g. picture above left) and excellent regular surf, though the
water is, of course, chilly and facilities may be distant. La Rochelle,
Jean de Luz are particularly good examples. Best June-Sept.
Brittany's large and lovely Atlantic coast beaches face an annual problem with massive doses of toxic seaweed due to nitrates polluting the water supply as a result of intensive agriculture. As the seaweed decomposes it forms a white crust under which hydrogen sulphide accumulates. When the crust is broken, the gas is released.
Jean-François Piquot, a spokesman for the environmental group Eau et Rivières, said the seaweed, that smells like rotten eggs when disturbed, has been on beaches in Brittany for decades and is spreading. 'There are about five beaches that are unusable. The problem is getting worse.' As much as 70,000 cubic metres of seaweed is cleared off about 70 beaches every summer.
Vincent Petit, 27, a veterinary surgeon from Paris, said that rotting seaweed a metre deep killed his horse as he rode across St-Michel-en-Grève beach. Mr Petit lost consciousness and was pulled off the beach. A post-mortem on the horse showed that it had died of pulmonary oedema caused by inhaling hydrogen sulphide given off by the rotting seaweed.
'Farming is to blame,' said Mr Piquot. 'Britanny has 5 per cent of French agricultural land but 60 per cent of the pigs, 45 per cent of the poultry and 30 per cent of the dairy farms. As our rivers are not long, the pollution does not have time to clear before the water reaches the sea. If it enters a closed bay and there is sunlight, that produces the seaweed.'
The worst affected areas are coastal parts of Brittany and Normandy.
Algarve+. See Portugal
Excellent beaches though not attractive away from the seaside. Bugbog's
picks are Ilha
de Tavira for massive sand and little old town, or the Lagos
area for varied superb beaches with a sophisticated old town in support.
is popular with low cost sun-seekers. Portugal's east coast also
has many huge soft-sand stretches, though the waves are often brutal
so it's very popular with surfers and wind surfers. Guincho,
near Cascais is beautiful and popular, and beaches around Ericeira
deliver a lot of white water in memorable surroundings, though the
town has lost its cool.
Best in America:
Miami South Beach A huge, well tended beach just off the funkiest part of Miami, so
it's loaded with flash folk, facilities and access to excellent
bars and restaurants. The weather is generally good, apart from
the occasional hurricane, but the sea is chilly. Best Nov-May.
Florida, Canaveral National Seashore
Bakau, Fajara, Kotu and Kololi
Winter sun is guaranteed in this value for money, minimal-hassle
African experience. The hotels can be basic so try to stay in more
upmarket places. Beware of malaria.
Best Nov-March. OK April-May, and late Sept-Oct. Rains June-Sept.
beach pictures | Turkey
Ocean | Caribbean
| Pacific | Pacific