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Beaches along the Mediterranean

Luxuriate on the trendy or tranquil and always beautiful beaches of the Mediterranean. Sandy coves and rocky inlets alike are washed by mesmerizing azure water and warmed by the insistent sun and famously friendly people of Mediterranean Europe.

Suppose you are sailing bravely and purposefully through the Straits of Gibraltar, intent on finding your favorite European beach in the Mediterranean. Good luck  - it won’t be an easy decision to but the research will be extraordinarily pleasurable. What happens first?

Spain’s sunny southern beaches will beckon with miles upon miles of coastline, well loved and visited by the rest of Europe. Off shore are the Balearic Islands, famous for the nightlife and jet-set playground on Ibiza as well as being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thanks to the industrious Phoenicians. Beaches ring the islands in variations of sandy and rocky, remote and rambunctious; all feature that crystal clear blue stuff offshore.

Next, France, and you immediately think of glamorous movie stars, bikinis, and St. Tropez – as well you should – but there are surprises in store. Have a sunbath on the beach of car-free Porquerolles island, or visit the flamingoes in the Camargue wetlands near the beach– also famous among foodies for its salt. Consider a swim beneath the white cliffs of Cassis, or the vast, wild, cactus-ringed expanse of Espiguette in Languedoc and escape the crowds. Don’t forget to seek out the white sand and rocky inlets of Corsica.

You’ll cruise by Monaco, where the manmade, white sand Larvotto Beach has more glitter per grain than anywhere else along the Mediterranean coast in Europe. Your own vessel will gasp in admiration (or jealousy) at the unbelievable yachts and cruise ships that frequent the harbors in this part of the Mediterranean.On to the Italian Riviera on the Ligurian coast of Italy, where long shallow beaches anchored by charming seaside resorts are perfect for families and scuba divers. Think San Remo, Portofino, cafes at sunset with platinum water against a backdrop of forested hills. If you prefer wild, remote shores, explore the shores of Sardinia and for a rugged, more challenging beachscape, repair to the shores of Ionian Sea, on the “sole of the boot” opposite Greece.

Cross over to Malta and you’ll wonder if you’re in the center of a prism, the air is so luminous on the small islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino. Beaches are covered with golden or red sand or boulders perfect for a seaside ramble. Malta is best for ocean water sports while Gozo and Comino generally have rockier beaches and great snorkeling. The best part: the Maltese climate allows bathers to keep at it until mid-autumn.

Greece and its 6,000 islands greet you next, sirens of beach beauty for eons. Surfaces range from volcanic sand to pebbly, vistas wide open or set back in the cliffs with slivers of sky and sea framed by jagged rocks. Some beaches attract a crowd where you can meet fellow sun worshippers and never be lonely and buzz with water sport activity; others entice the occasional goat and sea birds, the perfect place when alone is all you want to be  - or with your special travel partner. Greece has close to 500 Blue Flag beaches, showing an enormous commitment to protecting the places where this history-drenched land meets the incredibly clear, bright Mediterranean.

Turkey’s Mediterranean seaboard is aptly named “The Turquoise Coast” not because the beaches are piles of blue stone, although that would be nice, but the water is of a color and clarity you must see to believe. The beaches are wildly popular for all kinds of travelers, families and singles alike surrounded as they are by seriously impressive historical sites served up with Turkish hospitality. The beach at Ölüdeniz is a standout for its blue lagoons, and has been described as 'the Eden bestowed by God to the World'; that’s quite an endorsement. How can you not check that one out?

Round off your voyage at the dazzling beaches is on the island of Cyprus. The western side is quiet, perfect for solitude, snorkeling and diving. The eastern coast anything but that, where revelry rules at high-energy resorts and parties afloat twinkle offshore at night. Southern beaches are hard-packed and great for jogging. What the beaches of Cyprus have in common is access to perfect day trips inland to see historical sites, if you can tear yourself away from the captivating sight of the bluest sea all around.

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