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Top Parks for Beaches

There are some holiday traditions that will never fade. Even though at Al Fresco our parks have just about every conceivable pool and playground attraction to keep tots-to-teens amused all day long, there comes a time when only a bucket and spade and burying dad in the sand will suffice. That’s why most of our parks are within easy reach of a beach. Now, not all are sandy. Not all are quiet. They’re mostly all Blue Flag. And they offer off-park alternatives guaranteed to make everybody smile. From pedaloes to kite-surfing, jet-ski’s to volleyball, you’ll find all you could ever need to make those lazy, balmy days in the sun just that tiny bit more exciting. Of course, you needn’t indulge in all that pulse-raising high-jinks to have a good time. There’s nothing wrong with a yoga session in the sand, or a pina colada under a beach bar parasol, to help pass the time...

UNION LIDO

 

Stretching 15km from the lighthouse at Cavallino to Punto Sabbioni, the wonderful, broad beach on the Union Lido doorstep emerges from lush, aromatic pine forests, turning into rolling dunes, that become fine, golden sands, gradually sinking down into clean, safe, shallow warm waters – good for all the family in more ways than one. (The ‘Alto Adriatic’ is rich in iodine, which supposedly has many therapeutic properties). Of course, ‘beaching it’ must include a ball. That’s why there are separate boules, volleyball and soccer areas, well away from snoozing sun worshippers. Or you might want to park the bucket and spade and head for high adventure – and it doesn’t get more exciting than kite-surfing. Alternatively, a spot of gentle sailing might ‘float your boat’...

campingin park umag

 

In contrast to your ‘typical’ beach of fine, golden sand and rolling azure surf, beaches in Istria are a combination of fine gravel, pebbles, rocks and sand – shorelines that gracefully descend to serene, rippling waters of sheer, transparent purity. These have all been awarded the coveted Blue Flag as testament to their exquisite quality and most feature lifeguards. In essence, you will struggle to find better ‘beaches’ anywhere on earth, especially for youngsters who can potter in and out of the rock pools in total safety all day long. Over and above the pristine, paved Kanova beach that is right on your doorstep, try Laguna Stella Maris, Katoro or Polynesia – all within easy reach of Park Umag. (NB: many beaches have separate naturist areas, so watch where you’re wandering to avoid embarrassment...)

SANGULI

 

There are 14km of long, wide, clean, super-soft sand beaches (34 in all) along the Salou coastline – and best of all, the fun starts right across the road from Sanguli. This is Poniente beach (Blue Flag), popular with young families, never seemingly too crowded and with plenty of ‘filler’ for the bucket and spade. You can rent sun-loungers from your very own Beach Club at a special discount, which means you can ‘set your stall out’ all day long for a reasonable price. The Beach Club marks the start of the palm-lined promenade too, ideal for a stroll before tea. Further along, the beaches of Llevant and Capellans are also worth investigating, especially if you’re into jet-skis and the like. Bars and ‘snack shacks’ are plentiful to keep you well-fortified from sun-up till sun-down.

VILANOVA PARK

 

Vilanova has just about everything the perfect beach holiday needs: glorious, soft golden sands easing down gently to warm, clear waters, lifeguards surveying the scene - and variety. That’s right. You’re not stuck with the ‘same old beach’ here. There are five fantastic options to choose from, all Blue Flag safe, all with their own individual character and features. There is the more remote Platja d’Ibersol, accessed by bus and half wildlife preservation area/half sunbathers; Platja de San Gervasi (12,500m2), Platja D’Adarro (77,00m2) with its hammocks for the lazy and volleyball for the sporty; Platja del Far (‘lighthouse beach’) water-sport wonderland on the opposite side of the super-yacht marina; and ‘the daddy’ of them all, Platja de Ribe Roges (204,000m2) complete with 375 sun-loungers, outdoor gym circuit, palm trees for shade, terrace bars, table-tennis, tents...the lot.

LES PRAIRIES DE LA MER

 

Acknowledged to be one of the best beaches in the South of France, Port Grimaud presents an enticing ribbon of golden sand, lined with swaying palms, dotted with seaweed, and offers gently sloping, clear-blue shallows – ideal for youngsters. If the kids are too old for paddling, then windsurf and kayak hire is available, whilst dads might fancy a blast on the jet-ski. When it’s time for a bite to eat, there’s a choice of bars and ‘toastie’ spots, or a splendid seafood restaurant, where platters groaning with the daily catch are a mouth-watering proposition indeed. Glass in hand; feet in the sand...you really can’t beat it.

chateau de galineé

 

Whilst there are seven beaches in all, each within easy access of Saint-Cast-Le Guildo, the two biggest and most popular are Grande Plage and the slightly smaller Pen Guen, which are like two giant bites out of the Bay of Arguenon’s emerald shoreline. Whichever you choose, you will be amazed by the sheer scale and scope of the silky, soft sands – plenty room here for kite-running and pony trekking, and more than enough room for thousands of families without ever feeling crowded. The car parks are huge too, so you’ll never be stuck for a space. The beaches are gently sloping and strewn with beautiful sea shells – classic fare for the bucket and spade. Fare of a different kind is available from the ice cream/snack emporiums, though restaurants are few and far between.

Yelloh! village le sylvamar

 

Enjoying a prime location between Hossegor and Biarritz, Labenne Ocean is a trendy surf dude’s paradise. This stretch of glorious Bay of the Basque coastline is a magnet for dedicated fans of the A Frame, Barrel, Wedge and Peak...but it doesn’t matter if you’re a Kook (beginner) here, you’ll love getting carried away on the dazzling white Atlantic rollers as they come crashing onto the rich, golden sands. You could plump for the more relaxed option of sea-fishing, if you’d rather catch a fish than a wave. There are many good quality ‘fast food’ outlets to keep you topped up throughout the day and when the sun goes down, keep your ears open for guitars and drums – every Friday in peak holiday season there’s a musical turn or two to get you twisting the night away...

Yelloh! village au lac de biscarrosse

 

Lake de Biscarosse, the second largest in France, represents 5600 hectares of sheer beach holiday brilliance. It really does have all the bases covered – warm (28-degrees), tranquil, crystal-clear shallow waters for tots to paddle in; pristine, white, silky powder sand to shuffle little toes through; a cool, pine forest backdrop (ideal for gentle exploration by bicycle) and yoga classes on the shore. A bit too ‘pipe and slippers’ for you? Then check out ‘the other side of the coin’ – this is a kite-surfer’s dream come true, windsurf wonderland, bungee jump joy-fest, jet-ski heaven, kayak perfection...the list goes on. Make no mistake: this is a water-sport enthusiast’s paradise. And when the day is winding down, there are places to chill out with a cold drink whilst the evening music drifts over you...

marina derba rossa

 

If one of the family’s main holiday must-have’s is proximity to the beach, then this park will get a double tick. After a lazy, two-minute stroll, you can plonk yourselves down in the middle of seemingly endless, dazzling, white sands. You might want to seek the shade of a parasol thatch, kick off the flip-flops and sink into your paperback. Or you might prefer to tip-toe down to the sweetly soothing ripples of the warm, caressing sea, soaking up the view: magic-blue Med before you, majestic Monte Incudine behind. If you turn right, you could go to Oru beach, to the left and head for Vignale. But why change beaches when this, your very own, has an ice-cream parlour calling you in for cool refreshments? Too sedate a scene? Then book yourselves in for a windsurf ride, or hop on a pedalo and go exploring.

des mehnirs

 

There are five beaches close to Carnac centre, home of the famous standing stones, yet Grande Plage and St Colomban are probably the pick of the bunch. Grande Plage, as the name suggests, is the ‘big boy’ (a 2km stretch, in fact) and especially popular with young families who cannot get enough of its talcum-white sands and crystal blue Bay of Biscay shallows – perfect for paddling. The beach is supervised in high season, when the celebrated striped beach huts are almost always full. St Colomban is a windsurfer’s dream and the WW2 bunker peeping out of the dunes is another attraction. Time for lunch? Carnac has plenty to offer, from high-brow seafood restaurants, serving the region’s fabulous oysters, to jolly, little creperies serving wonderful wafer-thin pancakes – a joy any time of day.

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