10 tips for finding your perfect beach

Richard Mellor

You know it’s out there, hidden somewhere along the seafront—but how exactly do you find your dream beach?

Do your research

The internet is a great source of information. Search around and you’ll generally find beach guides to your chosen region listing facilities, wave strength and so on.

A great resource is the Blue Flag website, which collates every global beach that has been awarded the status for its cleanliness and quality standards.

 

Sandy, shelly or shingly?

One common fail of beach guides is that they fail to list each shore’s land material. There’s an instinctive tendency to see the word ‘beach’ and immediately picture soft, toffee-coloured sand. Hold off from doing that. Instead, cross-check the beach online until you can be sure of its sandiness or smooth shelly texture.

 

Map it out

Look on Google Maps for smaller patches of yellow near where you're based. Should there be no obvious road route, zoom in to see if a track or minor road appears. If you're lucky, this could be one of those great, lesser-known secrets which we all dream of unearthing.

 

Ask the locals

Generally, most beaches have been exposed, and that’s all there is to it. Very often, however, veteran villagers or wise-owl hoteliers will know of a secret spot missed by almost all incomers.

Befriend such people and, when the time is right, ask them if they could recommend somewhere…

 

Wave theory

If you plan on trying to find a wilder beach, you should be aware of the likelihood there won’t be a lifeguard. In which case, only proceed if you’re a strong swimmer, and research tide times.

Check, too, on the likelihood of dangerous rip currents, and learn how to identify these.

 

Around the bend

Very often, one beach abuts another. If you’re able to do so safely, it’s always worth peeking into the adjacent coves of busy strands, as you may discover a much less populous alternative.

Bringing crocs or flip-flops will help with your exploration, as such trips often involve stony traverses of rocky headland. They also—bonus—commonly feature rock pools ripe for exploring. Once again, check tide times so you don’t get stuck.

 

Hire a boat

Lots of summer destinations, and particularly islands, have coves which lack road access; sometimes there’s not even a joining footpath due to sheer cliff-faces or the risk of subsidence.

Such spots can be conquered, however, by anyone in possession of a boat. Explore along the coast and you might just happen on an entirely empty slice of paradise.

 

Consider your needs

If you’re travelling with children or feel uncomfortable about the prospect of finding somewhere to relieve yourself when nature calls, you’ll want a beach with facilities—and that inexorably means more crowds.

Such shores come with definite advantages, such as equipment to hire, sun-loungers to use and perhaps a bar to enjoy. If you’re going for somewhere further-afield you’ll have to lug all your own kit, yourself.

 

Time your visit

Weekends are always going to be busier than weekdays, as the locals will be in attendance. To beat your fellow tourists, either try to arrive very early, or go for the late shift—as anyone with a hefty journey home heads off, and the sand empties.

 

Rent a 4x4

Having a four-wheel drive will deliver you to beaches that are out of reach for many motorists—especially tourists who daren’t scar their rental vehicle.

In Corsica, for instance, the scarcely-visited Balistra beach is accessed via a two-mile track whose rutted terrain deters most would-be attendees. Anyone who does make it is thus guaranteed ample doses of space and serenity.