Guide to the Best Atlantic Ocean Beaches
n. b. Atlantic waters will always be cool & usually rough unless protected by bay or 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 less hawkers hassles than the less ‘Moroccan’ but more popular beach resort of Agadir. Best June-September. 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 Catedrais – 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 are in the same latitude as southern Morocco.
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. Albufeira 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.
Florida‘s 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. Southerly Miami has a much more beach-suitable climate than the East Coast’s more northerly Atlantic Ocean beaches such as Atlantic City, though that large stretch of sand backed by the famous Boardwalk works well in mid-summer.
The weather is generally good, apart from the occasional storm in the summer, but the sea is chilly, particularly December-March. Best November-May.