Five yoga holiday destinations for 2014

January 19, 2014 at 6:52 AM

Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in through your nose. Now breathe out through your mouth. In, out. In, out. Well done. You’ve just learned basic yogic breathing. You have now completed the first stage in your 2014 journey to learn yoga. Stage two is a bit harder but a lot more fun; it’s time to pick a beautiful backdrop for a yoga holiday in 2014. Here are five very special places for your low warrior, your sunbird and your downward dog; all you need to do is get you and your yoga mat there.

Up in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco

Atlas Mountains Photo: Wonker

Atlas Mountains. Photo: Wonker

Once upon a time, Morocco was the playground of just a few, but nowadays destinations like Marrakech, Fez and Essaouira are increasingly mainstream city break destinations. However, don’t assume they don’t still offer many things perfect for a yoga holiday, as this is a country that promises long days of sun to worship, big blue skies to stretch up into and of course, an abundance of exotic scenery. If you base yourself in Marrakech you are only a couple of hours away from the jagged beauty of the Atlas Mountains, which promise not only beautiful views but also peace, calm and quiet to practise yoga in.

10 secluded beaches in Spain

July 16, 2012 at 6:44 AM

Who doesn’t love endless blue skies, sunshine, turquoise water and the feeling of soft warm sand beneath your feet? If your idea of the perfect holiday is lounging around on a beach, then Spain is the country for you. Spain has some amazingly beautiful beaches, but even the most perfect beach can be ruined when it’s overrun with tourists. If staying in a holiday rental in Spain and you’re looking for a quiet escape, check out these 10 secluded beaches.

Cala de Algaiarens, Menorca

Algaiarens beach in Menorca

The golden beach of Cala de Algaiarens is located on the Spanish island of Menorca. The picturesque cove is surrounded by rugged slopes and can be hard to reach, which means that it is not very crowded even during the summer. The picture-perfect beach has soft golden sand and crystal clear water that is perfect for snorkeling and exploring underwater caves, however waves can sometimes be quite powerful so it isn’t ideal for families with small children. Cala de Algaiarens is on private property and there is a €4 admission fee. If you’re staying in a holiday villa in Ciutadella, to reach the beach, you’ll nee to head for Cala Morell on the Ronda Norte. At Torre d’En Quart, look for signs to Algaiarens until you see signs for La Vall.

Playa de Rodas, Islas Cíes, Galicia

Rodas beach in the Cíes Islands

The spectacular crescent-shaped beach of Playa de Rodas is located on the island of Islas Cíes, off the coast of Galicia. The water is warm, calm and crystal clear, making it perfect for swimming and snorkeling. When you’re not in the water you can stretch out on the soft white sand or build sandcastles with the kids. It’s a tranquil retreat that is accessible by ferry from Vigo or Baiona. The ferries take 40 minutes to reach Islas Cies and they only operate from early spring to late summer.

Playa del Silencio, Oviedo

Silencio beach in Asturias

If you’re looking for peace and quiet, then Playa del Silencio (Beach of Silence) is definitely the spot for you. Located on the Asturian coast, to the northwest of Oviedo, near the fishing village of Cudillero, the tranquil beach is inexplicably quiet even in August and September. The golden brown sand-and-stone beach is the perfect place to enjoy the exquisite view, or you can snorkel in the calm, sheltered water of the bay. From the car park you need to walk approximately 10 minutes along a coastal path. Steps twist down pine-covered cliffs to the cove below.

El Palmar Beach, Cádiz

El Palmar beach in Cádiz

It may not be located in a quiet cove like most of the secluded beaches on this list, but El Palmar is as deserted as they come. The wind-swept golden sandy beach goes on as far as the eye can see, but there are no high-rise hotels or fancy restaurants in sight. The wind makes it the ideal spot for surfers. When you want a break from riding the waves there are a few small bars that serve wine and snacks. It’s a great place for the kids to build sandcastles, but bring an umbrella, because there is no shade in sight. The beach is located near Vejer de la Frontera on route A-48, between Tarifa and Cádiz.

Playa de Estorde, A Coruña

Estorde beach in Galicia

Playa de Estorde is situated in the Galicia region in the northwest of Spain, to the west of the small town of Corcubion. The long beach has fine white sand, and calm, clear water, perfect for families traveling with children. The shallow water is the perfect place to swim or snorkel. Playa de Estorde is a quiet beach that only gets busy on Sundays when the local community comes out to soak up the sun.

Calo des Moro Beach, Majorca

Calo des Moro beach in Majorca

On the southeast coast of the Spanish island of Majorca you’ll find the small, secluded beach of Calo des Moro. Imposing cliffs create a dramatic backdrop for this beautiful beach where turquoise water laps at soft white sand. The sand slopes gently into the shallow water, making it ideal for families with small children. The clear water is also ideal for water sports such as diving and snorkeling. During July and August the beach can get very crowded, but for the rest of the year Calo des Moro is a haven of tranquility. The beach is only 6km from the town of Santanyi, and is easily accessible.

Aiguablava, Girona

Aiguablava beach in Girona

Aiguablava is located in northern Costa Brava, in a beautiful little cove nestled between steep cliffs. Relax on the sandy beach, go sailing, take a dip in the calm, shallow water, or eat freshly caught squid at one of the small fish restaurants overlooking the beach. Although the beach is popular during July and August, it’s remains far quieter than most other Costa Brava beaches. It’s the ideal place to spend a sunny day if you’re staying in a Begur or Girona holiday rental.

Cala d’en Serra, Ibiza

Cala d'en Serra in Ibiza

Although the island of Ibiza may be synonymous with parties and crowds, there are also some idyllic, peaceful spots where you can relax and enjoy the amazing scenery. Cala d’en Serra is one such spot. This little piece of perfection is situated in a sheltered cove on the north coast of the island, overlooked by rugged cliffs and quaint fishing huts. Although it’s popular with the locals the beach seems to have slipped under the radar of most tourists, which makes it the perfect place to soak up the sun, even during peak season. The beach has golden sand and fine pebbles, and the water is calm, making it ideal for snorkeling and swimming. To reach the beach follow the sign on the main road just north of Portinatx, where there is a dirt track that leads down to the beach.

Das Raias Muxia, A Coruña

Das Raias beach in Muxia

Located near the small town of Muxia in the northwest of Spain, is the delightful Playa Das Raias. This tiny, unspoilt beach is a little piece of heaven. The soft white sand beach is surrounded by lush vegetation and is the perfect place to work on your tan or swim in the calm water. There are a few rocks that peep out of the sand here and there, so be careful if you’re traveling with children. Das Raias beach is 10 minutes from Muxia, along the road that leads to Ponte do Porto.

Cala Gracioneta, Ibiza

Cala Gració i Gracioneta in Ibiza

This secluded, rustic beach is located in a small cove next to the touristy Cala Gració. The fine golden sand and warm shallow water make it the perfect place to relax. There is also plenty of shade and the El Chiringuito bar on the beach serves excellent paella. The beach is located 2km north of Sant Antoni de Portmany. There are buses that go to Cala Gració. From there, follow the rocky headland into the next bay.

Ibiza’s Other Side

February 28, 2012 at 2:15 AM

During the summer months Ibiza is the undisputed club party capital of the world, but there is so much more to this island than pulsating nightclubs and wild parties. Ibiza is one of the Balearic Islands, located in the Mediterranean Sea, off the east coast of Spain. During the summer the island basks in glorious sunshine, with temperatures frequently reaching 30ºC. Ibiza has a notably warm climate even during winter, making it perfect for those who seek sun and sand.

View of Ibiza's harbour and old town

Although Ibiza’s party scene is world famous, there is a more cultured and quieter side that may surprise those who take the time to explore the island. The best way to explore is to hire a car and take a leisurely drive around the island.

Explore Historic Eivissa (Ibiza Town)

There is so much talk of the legendary night life in Ibiza that the cultural heritage of towns like Eivissa, often come as a complete surprise to visitors. The fortified town, also known as Ibiza Town, sits on the hillside that rises above the Mediterranean. The old town has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and thanks to the diverse cultural history, there are wonderful districts to explore. La Marina and Sa Penya are the seaside districts that have quaint shops to browse around, lively bars and quayside cafés. There is also a market where you can shop for fresh fruit and vegetables if you’re staying in a self-catering Ibiza Town rental.

The best part of Ibiza is the old town that is known as Dalt Vila, which appropriately means “High/Upper Town”. Put on some sensible shoes to explore the steep, narrow cobbled streets and high ramparts of Dalt Vila and enjoy the superb views from the immense 400-year old walls. The panoramic scenery is certainly worth the climb. The labyrinth of winding alleyways will lead you past Cathedral Square, and finally to the Almudaina Castle at the summit. During your exploration don’t miss the Archaeological Museum of Ibiza and Formentera, and the Puget Museum. Taking an afternoon stroll through the old town and eating a romantic evening meal at one of the fine restaurants is the perfect way to spend a day. The tourist office in Ibiza Town has walking maps in several different languages to help you plan your route.

Get Out and About

There are plenty of other historic sites and natural wonders to see across the island. The town of Santa Eulalia is home to the fortified es Puig de Missa historical monument. The coastline around Santa Eulalia has rugged cliffs, islets and small coves including Figueral, Cala Boix, Cala Llenya, Cala Nova, and Pou d’es Lleó. From Santa Eulalia you can take a picturesque route the leads to Torre de Campanitx, a tower located between Pou d’es Lleó and Cala Boix, where you can enjoy a stunning view of the Mediterranean and the islet of Tagomago. The rock of Es Vedra, which lies 3km off the coast of Cala D’Hort, is another site that should be on the itinerary, as is the fascinating Can Marça Caves. A visit to Es Canar Hippy Market (held on Wednesdays) is also a must when staying in an Ibiza holiday villa. You’ll be able to buy batik wraps, leather goods and silver jewellery at great prices. When you’re staying in an Ibiza holiday rental there are also several options for day trips, including the neighbouring island Formentera. There are regular boat trips between the islands.

When you’ve had enough sightseeing there are plenty of outdoor activities to keep you busy on an Ibiza holiday. The clear, warm Mediterranean water is perfect for water sports like snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing, jet skiing, wind surfing and swimming and there are plenty of blue flag beaches where you can soak up the sun, even in the winter months when the beaches are wonderfully deserted.

You can hire a bicycle and follow marked routes across the island, or if you are feeling adventurous and energetic you can walk along trekking paths that take you past some of the most unspoilt and magnificent island scenery.

Whether you’ve come to Ibiza to join the trendy party scene, to relax on the beautiful beaches or to enjoy the natural beauty of the island you won’t be disappointed.