Whatever You Want: The Top 10 Beaches

What do you like. Fly and flop? A windswept walk? Action-packed sands? Or somewhere the kids can get out their buckets and spades? Ian McCurrach reveals the best beaches on the Mediterranean to suit your fancy
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The Independent Travel

1. Italy's cove for romance

Where: Priaia del Fuoco, Italy

The vibe: Priaia del Fuoco hides away at the end of the Capo Vaticano coast, the tip of the bunion on the toe of southern Calabria. Accessible only by boat or by a very precipitous path, this rocky cove has pashmina-soft sand, shelves very steeply and is gently lapped by aquamarine waters. Most couples arrive by motorboat, spend a couple of hours lazing on the sand before heading off for a late lunch at one of the many fish restaurants in neighbouring Grotticelli. Lovers can hole up at the intimate 18-room Porto Pirgos Hotel in Tropea, which has superb views out across the sea to Stromboli and its pyrotechnics. Pick up a boat in Grotticelli or Santa Maria.

The people: Lovers and young honeymooners.

The look: Barefoot Dolce & Gabbana chic.

The drink: Chilled Ciro Bianco or Ciro Rosato.

How to get there: Real Holidays (020-7359 3938; realholidays.co.uk) offers a seven-night half-board break at the five-star Porto Pirgos Hotel from £861 per person, based on two sharing. Car hire costs about £180 per week, and flights with Ryanair (0871 246 0000; ryanair.com) to Lamezia about £70 return.

2. Corsica for the family

Where: Santa Giulia, Corsica

The vibe: Beaches abroad should be fairly close to hand if you have fidgety kids. At just over two hours away by plane, Santa Giulia suits. Think turquoise water lapping talcum-white sand (more Caribbean than Mediterranean) and you are half way there. Even young toddlers can play safely in the gently shelving water of this tranquil bay, bordered by scented pine trees and red-coloured rocks, while their older siblings will be more than occupied by activities such as mucking about on pedal boats.

The people: The St Barth's crowd grown-up and settled down.

The look: Flip flops, sundresses and surfing shorts.

The drink: La Pietra, the locally brewed chestnut beer, or local rosé.

How to get there: VFB Holidays (01242 240300; vfbholidays.co.uk) offers one-week's self-catering at a number of properties near the beach, such as the three-bedroom Villa Armentaju, which has its own private pool, from £483 per person, based on six sharing, including return flights to Bastia and car hire.

3. Out and proud in Greece

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Where: Elia, Mykonos

The vibe: For Grecian glamour, head to Mykonos's most chilled beach. Popular with late twenty to seventy-somethings this once exclusively gay beach is now popular with fashionistas and stylish sun worshippers of all persuasions, but is still predominantly gay at the far end. Situated on the south coast of the island, Elia is reached by a terrifyingly steep, pot-holed road that ribbons down a cliff face. Lounge like a lizard under a pretty straw parasol and pose with the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier and his jolly Euro-chums. Gorgeous bikini-wearing Greek girls with walkie-talkies patrol the sand taking drink and food orders, from the local taverna. Walk 20 minutes across the rocky hillside to Agrari beach and eat in the flower-filled taverna garden there.

The people: Boys, boys, boys.

The look: Puff and buff.

The drink: Mojitos.

How to get there: Respect Holidays (0870 770 0169; respect-holidays.co.uk) offers a seven-night b&b break from £419 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights. One week car hire costs from £165.

4. On the Balearic beat in Ibiza

Where: Bora Bora, Ibiza

The vibe: The ultimate in after-hours clubbing and seminal Ibiza. Bora Bora Beach Bar on Playa d'en Bossa beach offers outdoor clubbing till midnight and indoor dancing till around 4am. This is a crank-up-the-beats, dance-on-tables sort of place where anything goes. Shake your booty as planes drop from the sky overhead on their very final approach to the nearby airport, the deafening jets attracting shrieks of euphoria from the up-for-it crowd waving their arms in the air. Chill-out beats play from noon and get progressively heavier as the day goes on. Hole up at nearby Hotel Es Vive in Figueretas, the serious choice of those in search of the nocturnal Ibiza clubbing experience with cool poolside DJs and a striking Art Deco interior.

The people: Wide-eyed party boys and girls.

The look: Model fabulous, boho-cool.

The drink: Sparkling water.

How to get there: EasyJet (0905 821 0905; easyjet.co.uk) flies to Ibiza from £60 return. Hotel Es Vive (00 34 971 30 19 02; hotelesvive.com) offers double rooms from £100 per night, including breakfast, minimum stay four nights. Carrentals .co.uk (0845 225 0845; carrentals.co.uk) offers one week's car hire in Ibiza in July from £115 for a mini category two-door vehicle.

5. Feet first in Mallorca

Where: Es Trenc, Mallorca

The vibe: Two-and-a-half miles of unspoiled beach backed by dunes. The protected strip has sugar-cube white sand, clear water - and, at one end, a naturist area to bare all. When the wind whips up on the southern Mallorca coast the sand turns treacherous and walkers have to take cover in the dunes. The dunes form a unique ecosystem due to the excess of wind and salinity in the area. Twitchers have a field day here with plenty of birds to spot, including the corsa seagull. Designer walkers stay in the capital Palma at the contemporary Puro Hotel, which has a cool beach club.

The people: Walkers and naturists.

The look: Walking boots or track shoes, lightweight walking gear.

The drink: Still water.

How to get there: Flythomascook (0870 750 5711; flythomascook.com) flies to Palma from £105 return. The Puro Hotel (00 34 971 425 450; purohotel.com) offers double rooms from £161 per night, including breakfast.

6. Catch a water taxi in Turkey

Where: Iztuzu beach, Dalyan, Turkey

The vibe: Reached by a gentle 45-minute water taxi ride on a dolmus from Dalyan, Iztuzu lies at the mouth of a beautiful river delta. As the boat splutters through 10ft-high reeds, Lycian tombs slide by adorning the hillsides. The beach itself is a spit separating the delta from the sea, so you have the choice of freshwater or seawater swimming. Sun worshippers need armfuls of sunscreen as the only shade is at either end of the beach (and bear in mind that the beach is three miles long), where there are limited sun loungers and facilities.

The people: Euro crowd.

The look: Cheap and cheerful.

The drink: Efes Pilsen beer.

How to get there: Metak Holidays (020-8290 9292; metakholidays.co.uk) offers a seven-night b&b break at the two-star superior Ozalp Hotel from £359 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights to Dalyan and transfers.

7. City meets beach in Spain

Where: Valencia, Spain

The vibe: Valencia's waterfront is the town beach of choice of the Spanish who flock here each summer to holiday. The long, golden stretch of sand that is lined with tavernas serving paella will get an added infusion of glamour next year when the America's Cup graces the city. When you tire of soaking up the rays, Spain's third city is only a short hop. The city of El Cid is an exciting mix of old and new. See the Moorish palaces, a cathedral that claims to house the chalice that is thought to be the Holy Grail, a beautifully preserved historic quarter and the spectacularly modern City of Arts and Sciences.

The people: Spaniards and those in the know.

The look: Low-key and sophisticated.

The drink: San Miguel beer.

How to get there: Kirker Holidays (0870 421 1201; kirkerholidays.com) offers a three-night b&b break at the three-star Ad Hoc hotel from £427 per person, based on two sharing, including return scheduled flights, private car transfers and entrance tickets to the City of Arts and Sciences.

8. Join Monaco's in-crowd

Where: Monte Carlo Beach Club, Monte Carlo

The vibe: Monte Carlo's most exclusive beach has been a favourite for the European international set since the 1930s and a hub for glamorous parties, water sports and high-profile sporting and fashion events. Guests to the next door Monte Carlo Beach Hotel are granted access to this private beach but non-guests are charged €60 (€75 on the weekend) for the privilege. Fashionistas, celebrities and royalty alike flock by helicopter or private yacht to this timeless boutique hotel for its sandy beach, unrivalled water sporting facilities and choice of four restaurants. The trendy Sea Lounge Bar offers a Zen-like atmosphere by day but after dark it's cocktails and dancing till dawn. It is the place in the principality to see and be seen during the summer months.

The people: Very Princess Stephanie jet-set.

The look: Big hat, huge shades, Roberto Cavalli kaftan.

The drink: Vintage champagne.

How to get there: Elegant Resorts (01244 897515; elegantresorts.co.uk) offers a four-night b&b break in an exclusive sea view room at the Monte Carlo Beach Hotel from £685 per person, based on two sharing, including return British Airways flights to Nice and return helicopter transfers.

9. The best for sporty types: Get out on the water

Crete's four-mile Elounda peninsula has a lagoon of warm water perfect for scuba-diving, windsurfing, jet-skiing and waterskiing. Kick back on a sailing boat with a bottle of wine and a picnic, or see underwater ruins in a glass-bottomed boat. How to get there: Seasons in Style (01244 202000; seasonsinstyle.co.uk) offers a seven-night b&b break at the five-star Elounda Beach Hotel from £1,185 per person, based on two sharing, including flights to Heraklion.

10. The best for star spotters: Who's zooming who?

The south of France is a red-hot ticket thanks to Hollywood royalty, tycoons and Saudi princes. Most of Cannes's Croisette is made up of private beach clubs where you pay a small fortune for a sun lounger. Turn left for the best strip of public beach where you have the whole panorama of Cannes ahead. British Airways (0845 850 9 850; ba.com) flies to Nice from £82 return. 3.14 Hotel (00 33 4 92 99 72 00; 3-14hotel.com) offers double rooms from £82.

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