Friday, 16 November 2012

Life's a Beach (Part 2)

Little Parakeet Bay, Rottnest Island
Last post I shared five great Asia-Pacific and Australian beaches from an article I wrote for the inflight magazine of a now-extinct airline. 

Here are the final six top places to enjoy sand and surf...

Family Beach: St Kilda Beach, Melbourne

From the moment an 1841 party of picnickers named St Kilda after the offshore schooner Lady of St Kilda, the Melbourne bayside suburb has been a place devoted to fun.

Between the century-old Luna Park funfair and the renovated St Kilda Sea Baths is sandy St Kilda Beach. Its sands are backed up by a boardwalk and a path dedicated to cyclists and inline skaters.

As the water is relatively shallow until you’re a fair way out into the bay, it’s a safe place for kids to have a paddle, and there’s a broad grass area behind the beach for ball games and frisbee tossing. A little further along the shore is Catani Gardens, a great location for a picnic after a swim.

Party Beach: Patong Beach, Phuket

If you’re after a place to relax in peace and quiet, don’t head to Patong Beach. If, however, you’re looking for a party zone, you’re in the right place. The most well-known of Phuket’s beaches, Patong has over 3 kilometres of sand. It’s even more famous for the numerous bars and nightclubs centred on nearby Bangla Road and the laneways leading off it.

Some of these side streets, such as Soi Tiger and Soi Seadragon, are completely roofed, so are good places to dodge any downpours. The Aussie Bar is the best family-friendly place along this strip, and the spot to catch sporting events on its big screens.

Secluded Beach: Dream Beach, Bali

Believe it or not, it is possible to escape the holidaying crowds on ever-popular Bali. Just 12 kilometres off the southeast coast of the island is Nusa Lembongan, a much smaller island. Its secluded gem is Dream Beach, a beautiful stretch of white sand with very few touts and plenty of space to relax. The surf is generally too strong for swimming, but it’s a fine place to sunbathe.

Above the beach is the Dream Beach Huts accommodation, which operates a cafe-bar with a view of the sea. You can get to Dream Beach via regular boat services from Sanur Beach on Bali.

Small Beach: Little Parakeet Bay, Rottnest Island, off Perth

In the Indian Ocean a 30 minute cruise from Perth’s port Fremantle, Rottnest Island has long been a special place of relaxation for Western Australians. As cars are restricted on the island, the pace is set by foot or bicycle, and the local bus which does the rounds of the island’s bays.

There are places to eat and drink in The Settlement at Thomson Bay, but the real attraction of Rotto is its natural beauty and wildlife. There are many beaches dotted around the island’s circumference, but one of the best is at Little Parakeet Bay, a small but beautiful stretch of white sand surrounded by rocky outcrops.

Uncrowded Beach: Eighty Mile Beach, Port Hedland to Broome

The lengthy Eighty Mile Beach stretches between Port Hedland and Broome in Western Australia. Given its sprawl, you can always find an uncrowded spot. It’s visited by an astounding number of migratory birds each year, and is also a popular fishing destination. A secluded accommodation option is the Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park, located about halfway along its length.

Really-getting-away-from-it-all beach: Buccaneer Archipelago, Derby

If you want a beach that’s really remote, you could do worse than hire a boat to take you to the Buccaneer Archipelago in the Indian Ocean off Derby in Western Australia. This collection of hundreds of uninhabited islands is dotted with beautiful unspoiled beaches. Be aware though, that there’s no one to help you out if you strike trouble, so check your boat’s radio gear and first aid supplies before sailing.