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 and October. Avoid winter time.
The Spanish northwest Atlantic coasts are lined with literally thousands of large and small characterful beaches, particularly along the shores of Cantabria - sometimes known as Mar Cantabrico - some with all the style, comfort and facilities you could wish for, such as the half dozen in Santander, while others are bizarre and beautiful but offer no services at all, such as Playa de la Arnia.
Temperatures of both the air and water will be marginally warmer on Cantabrian beaches than on the more westerly costas, the sand generally softer and facilities more commonplace.
The rugged, rocky Costa Verde (Green Coast) of Asturias is home to one of the world's strangest beaches, Gulpiyuri, which is about 100m from the sea, while Galicia boasts amazing As Catedral - with amazing crowds of gawkers in summertime! Costa Vasca offers one of the great city beaches of La Concha in San Sebastian.
And finally there are Spain's good value, long-season Canary Islands beaches, with a practically African climate as they have to same latitude as southern Morocco.
On the west side of France the Atlantic coast has some great stretches of soft sand
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.
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.
The Atlantic coast is best June-September. See France
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.
Miami South Beach is a massive, well tended strip 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 storm in the summer, but the sea is chilly, particularly December-March. Best November-May.
Bakau, Fajara, Kotu and Kololi beaches.
Winter sun is guaranteed in this value for money, minimal-hassle
African experience. It has a reputation as a place for western females to find companionship.
The hotels can be basic so try to stay in more
upmarket places. Beware of malaria.
Best November-March. OK April-May, and late Sept-Oct. Rains June-September.
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