Life's a beach and it's on your
Nothing beats a holiday in a house just yards from
the sea. Tom Templeton and Jane Knight select 15 of
the best beach billets
Sunday April 20, 2003
The Windmill Ormos Tskalia
Patitiri, Alonissos, Greece
On the quietest of the Sporades Islands, Alonissos,
only a few metres from the sea, stands this windmill
surrounded by dramatic scenery, pine forests and deserted
beaches. When the wind blows, the sails spin, but climb
the external stairs to find bedrooms, kitchen, dining
room and balconies overlooking the north-west Aegean.
There are no neighbours here on 'broken pottery beach'.
Go snorkelling in the crystal-clear water watched only
by the umbrella palms, or travel inland where you are
more likely to stumble across Alonissosians dressed
traditionally in black, or the tinkling of bells heralding
the proximity of goats and their herd, than other tourists.
Patitiri, the island's only town, which is actually
more of a village, is 15 minutes away by car.
Cost: From £482-£708 per person for a week
(based on four sharing), including flights, hydrofoil
and car hire.
Islands Club (020 8232 9780).
Russell, North Island, New Zealand
Wake up in wondrous solitude to the sun rising from
the Pacific Ocean at Paua Cottage, three hours north
of Auckland. At the foot of a cliff sits this three-bedroom
retreat with 'boatie's heaven', the Bay of Islands,
spread out in front of a swathe of sand. You can hire
a yacht with a skipper, swim with dolphins or wander
through the galleries in nearby Russell (New Zealand's
former capital). Or just laze on the decking at the
front and back of the cottage, and light a barbecue
if you can be bothered. If you can't, stroll to the
top-class Omata Estate Restaurant, surrounded by its
Cost: From £1,215 per person for 10 nights (based
on six sharing), including the hire of two vehicles
Holidays (01494 678400).
Hat Chow Samran
Great for anyone who wants a quiet place to observe
the rhythms of ordinary Thai life, this three-bedroom
painted wood villa sits on a white sand beach amid coconut
palms, on the edge of a fishing village barely touched
by tourism. Excellent seafood is available from your
neighbouring fishermen or at two good restaurants nearby.
There are numerous historic palaces, temples and caves
to be seen in the surrounding areas. For nightlife,
golf and tennis, the larger tourist areas of Cha-Am
and Hua-Hin are only 30 minutes away, but perhaps more
appealingly it's a five-second dash to plunge into the
Gulf of Thailand.
Cost: From £320 per week for two people (excluding
flights). Additional people cost £32 each to a
total of six.
Contact: Holiday-rentals.com (020 8743 5577) property 1685.
Cala Liboretto, Sardinia
Imagine sitting on the roof terrace with an early-morning
espresso, warm sea breeze and a view of a wide sweep
of powder white sand stretching to the green wooded
promontory of Cala Ginepro on Sardinia's eastern coast.
For a swim, you can just slip out of the garden gate
across the white sand beach to the turquoise sea gently
lapping the shore. The cool, dry, stone-walled villa
has been renovated by its owner, Chelsea's Gianfranco
Zola. Set among pine trees in its own private garden,
it boasts a large covered patio complete with purpose-built
barbecue, tiled work surfaces and a wood-burning pizza
Cost: From £705-£1,625 for a week for the
entire property (sleeps five). Car hire costs from £235
(seats five), while flights from London to Alghero with
Ryanair (0871 246 0000) cost from £8.99 per person
(not including taxes).
Holidays (01789 297705).
Bedarra Island Villa
This stylish two-bedroom villa sits on the water's
edge of Doorila Cove, two acres of private beach, pure
white sand and turquoise clear warm water, framed by
coconut palms. On the exclusive east side of Bedarra
Island, off the Queensland coast, there's great snorkelling,
fishing and hiking, and boating facilities and watersports
are available on Dunk Island - a 15-minute launch ride
away. The supermarket at Mission Beach will pack your
pre-selected provisions in cooler boxes and send them
over by boat ready for your arrival. A private chef
can be arranged for one or more evenings, full-time
caretakers for the villa live on the island and a daily
maid service is included, but otherwise your stay is
all about enjoying intimacy, seclusion and desert island
Cost: £210-£290 per night (sleeps four).
Return flights from Heathrow to Cairns and on to Dunk
Island with Qantas (0845 774 7767) cost from £994
Hotels (00 61 2 9332 2011).
Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, USA
Standing on tall pillars above a long stretch of
sandy beach on Buzzards Bay, this comfortable beach
house commands superb views across the water to the
Elizabeth Islands and Cape Cod, while Mattapoisett Harbor
with Ned's Point Lighthouse can be seen across the marsh.
Two flights of steps lead from the wraparound deck down
to the sand. The swimming is excellent, and you can
apply for a visitors' permit to dig for quahogs (clams)
on the beach.
Cost: £2,200 for two weeks (sleeps four).
England Country Homes (0870 077 4774).
29 Beach Walk, Whitstable, Kent
Open the double doors of the ground floor lounge
of these tarred-pine wood huts, and step directly on
to quaint fishing town Whitstable's beautiful pebble
beach. These converted fisherman's huts have had the
lobster pots and nets cleared out in favour of en suite
bedrooms, sofas and TVs. Breakfast at the trendy Hotel
Continental before strolling about the town's galleries
and gift shops. Have a bowl at the 10-pin alley next
door, or catch a film at the tiny local cinema. Then
sup at the fantastic Royal Native Oyster Stores Restaurant
before returning for slumber to the suck and drag of
the stones in the Channel tide.
Cost: Huts sleeping two adults cost £85 a night
midweek, £130 weekends. A family hut (2+2) costs
£100 or £150 a night.
Continental (01227 280280).
Noel Coward's Seaside Estate, Port Maria, Jamaica
Overlooking Jamaica's scenic north coast and the
Blue Mountain range, this lush seven-acre estate, with
its private cove, offers the ideal setting for relaxation
and recreation. Swim, snorkel, explore and delight in
native Jamaican cooking. You can rent from one to three
of the villas, which come fully staffed with maid service
and all meals served and prepared. Built by the prolific
playwright and songwriter Noel Coward as his original
island retreat and home, Blue Harbour has entertained
historic figures and celebrities such as Winston Churchill,
Alec Guinness, David Niven, Katherine Hepburn and Marlene
Dietrich. It is ideally located for shopping and night
life in Ocho Rios as well as exploring the Dunns River
Cost: Renting all three villas (sleeping 14) costs
from £2,250 to £2,550 a week, including
the use of six staff.
Contact: Holiday-rentals.com (020 8743 5577) property 6581.
off Moorea in the Society Islands, Tahiti
These Polynesian-style bamboo villas are pure Robinson
Crusoe in their seclusion, reached by boat in a lagoon
off Moorea's north-west coast. Moorea is an aquatic
paradise, enveloped by a lagoon with some of the finest
diving on earth. An outrigger canoe is provided for
your use. The abundant flora and fauna includes reef
sharks, moray eels, huge Napoleon wrasses and triggerfish.
You can either cater for yourself, use the nearby hosts
to cook or boat to a restaurant on another island.
Cost: From £1,609 per person a week, based on
two sharing, or £1,426 per person for four sharing.
Includes flights and transfers.
Holidays (01494 678400).
Bay of Ajaccio, Isolella, Corsica
You open the gate at the bottom of the garden of this
simple house decorated with pretty fabrics right on
to the beach with its fine yellow sand. The two-bedroom
property, which sleeps two adults and two children,
has a living room but most visitors will sit and dine
on the shaded terrace outside, with its views across
the fragrant maquis to the bay. Bring the children off
the beach at the end of the day and shut out the sea
by closing the gate.
Cost: From £393 to £673 per person for
seven nights including flights and car hire.
Ilena (020 7924 4440).
Diani beach, Kenya
Colobus monkeys and bush babies live in the palm tree-filled
villa gardens fringing the white sands of Diani beach.
The property, which sleeps nine, has great views over
the beach, and is just 30 kilometres from Mombasa. The
five bedrooms have verandas and are filled with antique
furniture from India and Zanzibar, including four-poster-beds.
When you've had enough of one of the best beaches in
the world, there is deep-sea fishing, snorkelling, and
wildlife viewing in the nearby Shimba Hills.
Cost: from £1,232 per person for five nights'
half board, including flights and transfers.
World Class (01306 747001).
This five-bedroom villa has three large terraces with
spectacular views of the sea and the surrounding islands,
including Veli Drvenik and Solta, and a garden with
direct access to the beach and the sparkling Adriatic
beyond. A spacious three-storey whitewashed building,
the villa is in the Dalmatian coastal village of Seget-Vranjica
with two shops for daily provisions, two restaurants
by the harbour and two small bars. You are just 10 minutes
from the beautiful walled city of Trogir and 15 minutes
from Split. Trogir has many supermarkets and a colourful
Cost: From £1,155 a week (sleeping 10). Croatia
Airlines (020 8563 0022) flies London to Split from
Villas (020 8368 9978).
St Germain Sur Ay
The white sand at the end of the garden of this modern
seafront villa stretches out over the sea and into views
of Jersey. On a clear day, it's possible to make out
the houses on the Channel Island. At low tide, the buildings
on the Isles of Ecrehou, a savage archipelago of islets
and rocks, can also be seen. Just 45 minutes from Cherbourg,
the villa is a short drive from the beaches used in
the D-Day invasion. It has been designed over three
floors to maximise the views. Comfortable rather than
luxurious, it sleeps eight in four bedrooms.
Cost: From £700 to £950 a week.
Contact: Holiday-rentals.com (020 8743 5577) property 7114.
Cliffside is a 300-year-old terraced cottage, reputed
to have been used by smugglers, with steps leading down
to the beach, which at low tide exposes a lovely stretch
of sand. Within a short drive are many other enticing
beaches, such as Kennack Sands and Kynance Cove, surrounded
by acres of National Trust land. Inside, the cosy cottage
boasts oak beams, an open fire and a window seat, which
looks out from the sitting room to the sea - there are
also sea views from the dining room and the two main
Cost: £690 a week in high season (sleeps six).
Cottages (01326 555555) property 71.
Villa Alejandra, Acapulco, Mexico
This private residence with exclusive access to 100
metres of beach was owned by the former President of
Mexico, Miguel Aleman. The romantic complex includes
two villas secluded within a paradise of walkways around
beautiful gardens and tropical vegetation. Casa Antigua
has three stylish bedrooms and a pool surrounded by
coconut palms, gardens and exotic birds. A six-strong
team of staff, including Mexico's renowned chef Susana
Palazuelos, will attend to your every need.
Cost: From £2,215 per person a week based on
six sharing. Includes flights.
Travel (020 7292 5050).