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Archive for the ‘Beaches of Africa’ Category

Madagascar Beaches, or “We Like to Move it, Move it!”

Posted by alainaflute on February 19, 2013

Madagascar Location (Vardion/Wikimedia Commons)

Madagascar Location (Vardion/Wikimedia Commons)

I’ve got to get myself to the beach! Of course, chances are higher that I’ll find myself on a beach in the United States in the next few months, but I can keep dreaming of those far off destinations, can’t I?

In an online search for fun and exotic beach destinations, I stumbled across “Imagine Africa,” part of a British travel group. This site lists many enticing beach destinations in Madagascar. I’ve only included those that do not directly pertain to a resort.

Let’s move it, move it!

Nosy Be coast. This island lies off the northwest coast of Madagascar (Susi4/Wikimedia Commons)

Nosy Be coast. This island lies off the northwest coast of Madagascar (Susi4/Wikimedia Commons)

Located 5 miles (8km) off the northwest coast of Madagascar, Nosy Be (“Big Island”) is a tropical paradise. With several activities to enjoy, such as snorkeling, hiking, cycling, and diving, you can experience what promises to be an amazing vacation on this volcanic island. There are several close-by islands in the archipelago to explore as well: Nosy Komba, Nosy Mitsio, Nosy Sakatia, and Nosy Tanikely.

Made (slightly) famous by 1994 BBC Reality TV show Girl Friday, Tsarabanjina is an inlet of the Mitsio Archipelago in the northwest of Madagascar. Although it appears that the island is managed by Constance Hotel Tsarabanjina (the only hotel on the island), the description deserves still mention: “Fringed by white sandy beaches with extraordinary birds, lush vegetation and encircled around by coral reefs, the region is bathed in sunshine all year round.” Activities include wind surfing, canoeing, water skiing, and excursions such as boat trips to the nearby great basalt columns and Les Quatre Frères islands. This is truly heaven for the birding beach-goer.

Nosy Iranja, Madagascar (Moongateclimber/Wikimedia Commons)

Nosy Iranja, Madagascar (Moongateclimber/Wikimedia Commons)

The only island in Madagascar to be visited by both the endangered Hawksbill and Green Sea Turtle, Nosy Iranjaspans two stunning islands which are joined by a 1.2km sandbank, Iranja Be and Iranja Kely which is home to Iranja Lodge & 13 hectares of paradise.” You might be able to catch a glimpse of turtles frolicking in the water or eggs hatching (if you come at the right time of year). You can also enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, Hobie Cat sailing, and excursions to Nosy Komba to spot some lemurs.

Pirate Cemetery, Île Sainte-Marie (Pauk/Wikimedia Commons)

Pirate Cemetery, Île Sainte-Marie (Pauk/Wikimedia Commons)

Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum! Doesn’t Ile Sainte Marie just look like a pirate’s dream? Right off the eastern coast of northern Madagascar, this is no longer a den of thieves and vagabonds, but a tropical “treasure island for those seeking palm-lined beaches, coral reefs and relaxation.” A hot spot for whale watching from July to September, you may well be able to spot humpback whales migrating through the channel between Sainte-Marie and main island Madagascar. Rich with activity and nature, you can cycle the island or dive to explore wrecked pirate ships and coral reefs. Have fun spotting one of the many lemur varieties that lives on the island (including black-and-white ruffed lemur, brown lemur, mouse lemur, and grey gentle lemur) or even the Parson’s chameleon (one of the largest in the world). I don’t know about you, but this one definitely makes the top of my list!

"Beach at Sainte Marie" (M worm/Wikimedia Commons)

“Beach at Sainte Marie” (M worm/Wikimedia Commons)

They like to move it, move it!


Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Beaches of Africa, Tallies & Tips | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Top 5 Beaches in the Eastern Cape (South Africa)

Posted by Jody on October 2, 2012

Today’s Featured Writer is Roseanna McBain

Surfer at Sunrise (ReeSaunders/Flickr)

Top 5 Beaches in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

The long, lush coastline of the Eastern Cape has plenty of wild floras around, opportunity for bird watching, wonderful cuisine, and more than a few activities to keep you occupied when you’re not working on your tan.

Jeffrey’s Bay – it would be remiss not to place this surfing nirvana first on the list. The Billabong Pro Surfing competition is held here annually, and almost year-round you can expect to find surfing gurus dotted about the water. The long stretch of pristine beach means families and couples gather here often during the warmer months. Make sure you book accommodation in this area well ahead of your arrival, as the majority of Jeffrey’s Bay accommodations are booked several months in advance.

A sunrise at J-Bay (Photo: ReeSaunders/Flickr)

Eastern Beach – situated in central East London, this beach is opposite Marina Glen and the main attraction here is the large collection of black rocks which make for some stunning photographs –if you have children they’ll have an absolute blast scrambling over these boulders! There are several changing rooms, restaurants and takeaway options, so if you don’t feel like packing a picnic make sure to stop off at one of the popular places along the way. A word of warning: don’t visit this beach over the New Year period, especially on New Year’s Day, as it’s one of the most popular local spots
around and can become tightly packed.

Relaxing in Style (Photo: FlickreviewR/Wikimedia Commons)

Coffee Bay – this stunning area has a very unique rock formation dubbed “Hole in the Wall” – it is attached to a cliff which juts into the sea. The Xhosa call it “iziKhaleni” – meaning place of thunder– as the water rushing through the hole can be heard from quite far away. A romantic Xhosa myth about how the hole was formed goes as follows: There was once a fair maiden who visited this shoreline, and a sea man saw her and fell in love. He begged her father to let her come away with him, but the father refused. The merman enlisted the help of a giant fish, who battered down a portion of the cliff (the hole) through which the sea man and his friends swept through and took the fair maiden away. The warm waters, soft sand, and picturesque scenery make this a must-see destination.

Humewood – this was the first blue flag beach in South Africa, and it is still very popular with locals and tourists alike. There is plenty of shade for when the sun becomes a bit too warm. There is a very family friendly vibe here, due in part to the beach being adjacent to Happy Valley, which offers some fun children’s entertainment. There are lifeguards on duty for six months of the year (November to April), and there are great opportunities for water sports, including fishing, snorkeling, surfing, swimming, and water skiing.

The lovely beach stretch of Port St. Johns (Photo: garethphoto/Flickr)

Port St Johns, Wild Coast – referred to locally as the Jewel of the Wild Coast, Port St. Johns beach seems to have it all: soft sand, warm waters, and long sun-drenched days. Take your camera with and get a picture of Thesiger and Sullivan, the twin mountains on either side of the river mouth leading to the ocean. A laid back community inhabits the town, and backpackers are frequent visitors to this area.

Author Bio: Roseanna McBain works for the Eastern Cape accommodation and booking website, TravelGround. She enjoys exploring the world around her, finding new eclectic shops, watching science fiction series, and herbal teas.

Posted in A Treasure of a Beach (Best Beaches), Beaches of Africa, Surfing Beach, Tallies & Tips | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

What’s all the Fuss about Sharm el Sheikh?

Posted by Jody on June 11, 2012

Today’s Featured Writer: Gemma Stone

What’s all the Fuss about Sharm el Sheikh?

Once just a modest fishing village, Sharm el Sheikh has become Egypt’s most-visited beach resort, particularly for people who are beach lovers and keen divers. In recent years a number of cities including Nuweiba, Taba and Dahab have become beach hotspots, but Sharm el Sheikh remains the most popular of all.

Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt – Panorama of Naama Bay (Photo:Naamsvermelding vereist/Wikimedia Commons)

So what is it about Sharm that brings people back year after year? Just less than half a century ago, the city was not worth mentioning, and yet today, it is packed with classy hotels that never rise more than two or three storeys and which command views across the Red Sea that just can’t be beaten.

For many, the weather is one highly desirable factor. It’s hot in the summer and pleasantly warm in winter, delivering long days of sunshine that extend into starlit evenings. No matter when you choose to go there (the city is accessible via the Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport that hosts national and international charter flights), you can be guaranteed of the best beach weather.

Iolanda reef in Ras Muhammad Nature Park (Photo: Mikhail Rogov/Wikimedia Commons)

Next, and perhaps the most emphatic reason, is the landscape both on the beaches and underwater on the tip of the Sinai Peninsula. Lapped by clear water and covered in kaleidoscopic reefs, this region is a haven for scuba divers of all levels who come to explore renowned sites in the Ras Mohammed National Park, and the Gardens, Paradise and Ras Umm Sid – to name a few! Experienced divers also flock to the well-known wrecks of the Thistlegorm and Dunraven.

For those who are less eager to venture into the deep, there’s plenty of snorkeling and paddling in the shallows, which are met by long sand-and-pebble beaches, set against a backdrop of sweeping desert. If you’re eager to do some water sports, try your hand at wind surfing, parasailing, boating or sea kayaking, but remember to wear sun lotion as the desert sun can be harsh in the summer.

Beach Camels (Photo: camel15 by seriousfun)

So if you’re keen to explore a beach resort unlike any other, consider Sharm el Sheikh, from where it’s possible to take a day trip into Cairo to glimpse the Sphinx, or bump into a camel at the seaside cooling his hooves in the waves.

Bio: Gemma Stone is a travel fundi who spent some time back-packing in Nepal and Australia. Her most recent beach adventure in Sharm el Sheikh has provided her with amazing stories of trekking through the desert with camels en tow. Gemma is based in London and writes about finding budget holidays.

Posted in Beaches of Africa, Featured Guest Writer, Monday Miscellaneous | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

The Best Beaches in Africa

Posted by Jody on December 6, 2011

Today’s Featured Writer: Alaina Diehl

When you think Africa, you might think “really, really, really, big.” Perhaps you already know that this massive continent covers 11,677,239 square miles (30,244,049 square km) with 22,921 mi (36,888 km) of coastline. Our best bet on narrowing down a beach to visit is to take a tip from someone who has already been there. Fortunately for us, readers of The Guardian dish on their favorite African beach destinations in “Readers’ tips:  the best beaches in Africa.”

Beaches are a girl’s best friend, but Sierra Leone (located on the west coast of Africa above the equator) is better known for its diamonds.  Two Atlantic beaches from this country make this list:

River No. 2 Beach, Freetown: If you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Freetown, River Number Two Beach is a no-frills tranquil getaway. Take in the white sand and palm tree landscape while enjoying the fresh coconut you bought nearby. Bring handy wipes – the restroom is a latrine in a shed.

River No. 2 Village Beach, Sierra Leone (Annabel Symington/Wikimedia Commons)

Sussex Beach, Freetown: Because there’s no way I can describe it better, here is what Pauline Hughes has to say about this beach: “Along the peninsula south of Freetown, this quiet, sandy beach faces the Atlantic with an opening onto a salt lagoon with mangrove trees, on the edge of which is Florence’s guesthouse.” You might want to check out Florence’s Guesthouse or read more about Sierra Leone.

Next, this mini African beach adventure takes us to Morocco.

Essaouira Beach (notice that sometimes “y” is the only vowel missing) is a beautiful place to soak up the sun or hit the surf. Remember the pictures of camels on the beach from Beaches of Morocco: “Beaches for Every Taste”? Better than a camel ride at the zoo, I’d say. There is also activity and food to entice you in the nearby Unesco heritage town.

Uganda (US CIA/Wikimedia Commons)

The next beach experience is in the middle of Africa (say what?) Landlocked Uganda hugs the rather large Lake Victoria. Reader Josie89 has recommended Banda Island, Lake Victoria. This privately owned island (one of the Ssese Islands) belongs to an “eccentric” British Kenyan named Dominic. You can all about it at the website that the article provided: Travel Uganda.

Tanzania is home to the another one of the Best Beaches in Africa. On the beautiful waters of the Indian Ocean, Kendwa Beach is an “idyllic stretch of white sand” that sounds (and looks) absolutely magical.

A Beautiful Beach at Kendwa Breezes Beach Resort (Kibabe/Wikimedia Commons)

Malawi is another landlocked African country that sports beachfront, this time on Lake Malawi. The Guardian reader jennylondoner describes the atmosphere of Cape Maclear as “chilled,” in the relaxed sense. This enclave has many secluded beaches where you can enjoy just about any of your favorite beach activities.

Monoxylon Beach, Lake Malawi (Stefan Kraft/Wikipedia)

Mozambique (CIA World Factbook/ Wikimedia Commons)

If your idea of fun is swimming with whale sharks and gigantic manta rays,  then Mozambique’s Tofo Beach, Inhambane is your Indian Ocean beach destination.  Yikes. Don’t worry, whale sharks are filter feeders. If you prefer to stay on dry sand, the eateries and wicker bungalows can be your happy place.

Bazaruto Archipelago, Vilanculos is the next location in Mozambique that makes the article’s cut. Although the beaches of Vilanculos itself are described as “dirty,” a short boat ride takes you to the picturesque Bazaruto Archipelago Nature Reserve. You can rent your own skipper for the day to enjoy exploring the deserted beaches, snorkeling with tropical fish, and aimless wandering. Maybe you’ll want to check out Sailaway Dhow Safaris, as the article suggests.

Finally we get two exciting beaches of South Africa. Who doesn’t love penguins? So, no matter who you are, you’ll love Boulders Beach, Simon’s Town. Boulders is within walking distance of Simon’s Town. This beach is home to the, I kid you not, African “jackass” Penguin. The nickname doesn’t come from cutting you off in heavy traffic. These penguins have a donkey-like bray. Named for boulders, not penguins, this beach is a fun spot to climb and jump into the warm ocean waves. Bring a picnic, build a sandcastle, and snap a photo or two!

African Penguin, Bristol Zoo, Bristol, England (Adrian Pingstone/Wikipedia)

The last but not least Best African Beach destination, Sodwana Bay is nestled in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Whales, dolphins, and leatherback turtles! Oh, my! This marine reserve and world heritage site is a paradise for nature, by nature.

Africa is a huge continent with 50-ish countries and endless adventures. Where will your next beach adventure take you?

Check out  The Readers’ Tips at The Guardian for more photos, insights and information on the Best Beaches in Africa.

Posted in A Treasure of a Beach (Best Beaches), Beaches of Africa, Tallies & Tips, Top Ten Beaches | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Beaches of Morocco: “Beaches for Every Taste”

Posted by Jody on October 14, 2011

Morocco (Author: Jalal nali/Wikimedia Commons)

Family Post by Alaina Diehl

From the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea, Morocco’s got you covered. Along several thousand kilometers of coastline, visitors can enjoy varied landscapes and activities to help them either unwind or catch the wind. Beaches aren’t one-size fits all, so find out which is right for you at VisitMorocco. In the article, “Beaches for every taste,” this travel site gives you tips on where to go to stay active or just relax and take in the rays of the sun.

Most of the Atlantic beaches of Morocco are described as “long strips of fine sand.” This category includes beaches of Western Sahara, much of which is under Moroccan control. These beaches get hotter as you travel south. Beaches near cities are very popular, but there are spots where visitors can still enjoy unspoiled nature with fewer visitors. The Atlantic beaches of Morocco are great for swimming, sunning, and enjoying water sports. The site’s featured beach in this category is Dakhla Bay, to the south of Morocco. This beach has a consistent year-round water temperature of 25 degrees C and boasts ideal conditions for water sports, such as three kinds of surfing (board, kite, and wind), wakeboarding, and jet skiing. Fishing and diving are other popular activities. Boat rides to the lagoon and surrounding islands show the natural beauty of this soon-to-be national park. The most “unreal” feature of all is having desert sand dunes right next to the sea. The idea of camping in desert dunes and waking up to go surfing seems absolutely out of this world. For the tourist who prefers a resort, Lixus, Mazagan, Taghazout and Plage Blanche are all along the Atlantic.

Dromadaires sur la plage d'Essaouira, Maroc -- Beach on the Atlantic Coast of Morocco (Photo by Witoki/Wikimedia Commons)

The Mediterranean Moroccan beaches between Tangier and Al Hoceima are more divided. These intimate spots boast warm waters and calm seas. The contrast of small traditional fishing villages and seaside resorts really brings out the diversity of lifestyle in modern Morocco. Tamuda Bay is a new coastal resort (on the outskirts of Tétouan and Saidia) that features water sports (inland, tennis and golfing… usually resort-y stuff). Another Mediterranean Moroccan beach destination, Mediterrania-Saida features six kilometers of white sand seafront.

“To remember: Whether you are looking for sunbathing or boarding, Moroccan beaches meet all visitors’ desires.” When it comes to contrasting Moroccan landscapes, you have to see it to believe it.

Posted in Beaches of Africa, Friday Finds | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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