When most vacationers think of beach vacations, they think warm, sunny, and tropical – maybe Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean, the south of France, the Greek isles. Those are all great places, but here are 5 beach areas that we highly recommend for non-traditional reasons.
The Pacific coast of Oregon goes for hundreds of miles and nearly all of it is dramatically beautiful. The sights include offshore rock formations, lighthouses, sea arches, sea caves and more. Some parts are very secluded, while others are easy to access. Some beaches are wide and friendly, perfect for walking or frisbee tossing (like Cannon Beach), while other parts of the coast are steep cliffs plunging directly into the water. The ocean is often emotional and animated. One can imagine a feverish symphony playing in the background as waves crash and swirl around the rocks. Take a picnic basket filled with local cheeses (Tillamook) and Oregon wine. During its quieter times and at low tide, there are amazing tide pools to explore, with colorful sea urchins, crabs, anemones, star fish, and an occasional octopus. The pine forests frequently border the beach, so the typical ocean aromas mix with the evergreen smells creating a uniquely fresh, invigorating combination. The coastal cities are quaint and relatively small – you won’t find any high rise condominiums here. As you walk along certain beaches and look up, you might envy the views from the cliff-side homes. But then again, maybe that’s your home exchange for the week or month.
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Scotland is appropriately famous for many things: castles, history, kilts, bagpipes, golf and more…but beaches? You bet! Perhaps not ideal for lengthy swims (though some people DO!), but Scotland’s beaches are wonderful. They aren’t content to simply be lovely strips of sand. No, true to everything dramatic about Scotland, her
beaches run the length of world class golf courses, are flanked by soaring cliffs that host nesting sea birds (including puffins!) and are adorned with picturesque castle ruins. Some castles have been turned into family playgrounds. You may spy seals swimming by, especially near river mouths, and even lovely swans! The people of Scotland are warm, friendly, and welcoming. The cultural exploration opportunities are everywhere. And best of all, home exchange options are plentiful. A few of our favorite beach areas are Cruden Bay, St. Andrews, Newburgh, and Bamburgh (Northern England).
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Where else can you cuddle up to an iceberg on a black sand beach? While it’s true that the water is not very inviting for swimming, the nearby thermally heated pools and springs more than make up for that. Iceland is a land of contrasts. It is every National Park you love all jammed onto one small island. There are glaciers,
waterfalls, lava flows, volcanoes, steam vents, rainbows, and amazing coastal scenery around every bend in the road. At the right time of year, experiencing the glorious Aurora Borealis is a strong possibility. As for beaches,they are mostly of the dramatic black sand variety, the result of lava flows pulverized by the sea. You will see some of the longest black sand beaches in the world here. And if you visit the beach near Jökulsárlón, you’ll witness icebergs being thrown ashore by waves. These are the cousins of the icebergs you’ll find swimming nearby in the iceberg lagoon at the foot of a massive glacier. On the southern coast near the town of Vik, the Dyrhólaey headland is worth a side trip. Here you’ll find sea arches, crashing waves, and black sand beaches all the way to the horizon. In Reykjavik, you’ll have opportunities for whale watching. For such a small country, Iceland has many home exchange enthusiasts.
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Both Belgium and The Netherlands have very nice, well maintained beaches on the North Sea. Local families flock here in the summer months. Many are even brave enough to go swimming in the chilly waters. Some beaches are even clothing optional for those who dare. You really must explore the many beautiful, historic, and romantic cities – especially Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp, Middelburg, Delft, Amsterdam, Zierikzee, Veere and more, all reachable within a very small area – perfect for short road trips or train excursions. Their food, shopping, beer, chocolate, cheese, culture, history, architecture, pubs, and more beckon to you in every city. If you time it right, you could be here during tulip season. Home exchange is very popular in the region.
Ok, wait a minute. Florida doesn’t belong on this list. Their famous beaches (Pensacola Beach, Panama City Beach, Miami Beach, Daytona Beach, Cocoa Beach, and more) definitely fall into the traditional warm, sunny, tropical category. But what about the beaches of Southwest Florida? Many mistakenly think of this part of the state as a big swamp. True, the Everglades dominate, but the beaches near Marco Island, Naples, and Ft. Myers are wide and beautiful, with gentle waves, powdery soft sand, and warm water for swimming. The region is famous for shelling – especially on Sanibel Island. Options for dining (especially yummy seafood) abound. Because the area is a retirement mecca, golf courses are plentiful. Boating excursions to tour the Everglades are educational and fun, with lots of opportunities to see alligators, sea birds, dolphins, and the occasional eagle. There is definitely no shortage of home exchange options and many are within the unique backyard canal communities.
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The Wales coast has long been a favorite vacation destination for Britain and now the Wales Coast Path is the world’s first uninterrupted route along a national coast. There are 870 miles of beaches, estuaries, cliffs, woodlands, and hills to explore. Plus, postcard perfect coastal towns, city waterfronts, parks and historic castles. Prime examples are Criccieth, Aberystwyth, especially Tenby (pictured) and the whole area of Pembrokeshire National Park which is simply breathtaking. The home exchange options are dreamy.
Enjoy 30 seconds of music and images for unusual beach areas in Scotland, Oregon, Iceland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Wales and southwest Florida with lots of home exchange possibilities!
Tom and Sheila are “Romancing The Globe”. Whether you are an insatiable traveler or occasional vacationer, check out their travel blog at www.RomancingTheGlobeTravelBlog.com They specialize in stories about their home exchange experiences, bareboat sailing and romantic travel. Each location mentioned in this article has at least one story and more photos. Check out their Listing at HomeExchange.com > 133979