Lively and laid-back beaches for group holidays
Festivals, destination weddings, backpacking, stag and hen parties, holidaying with friends is memorable, the tiniest bit shambolic, and, always, fun. Especially if you throw in blue skies, golden sand, warm seas, and sun-bathing. With that in mind, here are the best beaches for group holidays.*
Iracema Beach, Fortaleza, Brazil
Iracema Beach in Fortaleza
A city beach with easy access to the Brazilian city of Fortaleza, Iracema has so much to do that you might not even have time for a quick paddle. The bustling boardwalk is full of bars, restaurants, shops, sightseeing, boutique bargains from the CEART Artisan centre, regular matches at the nearby Presidente Vargas Stadium, and (pauses to take a breath) sunbathing, so many great spots for sunbathing. Friends who want to take it easy can park themselves in one of the nearby bars and watch the sunset, or check out the seaviews from a hammock at the VIP Beira Mar Residence.
Magic Island Beach, Hawaii, USA
Magic Island Beach in Hawaii
An artificially-created peninsula, Magic Island Beach is the ideal location for adventurous fitness fanatics. As a reef protects the beach from strong currents the west side of the island has bodyboarding, surfing, and paddle boarding lessons. Travellers who prefer to exercise on land can join the local joggers and skateboarders along the coastal paths, or just fire up the BBQ. To experience vintage Hawaii check into the Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club, a collection of retro bungalows overlooking the beach, and take a wander over to Ala Moana Beach Park for even more white sand, blue skies, and palm trees.
El Cura Beach, Torrevieja, Spain
El Cura Beach in Torrevieja
It’s not unheard of for urban beaches to be awarded Blue Flags but it’s an achievement, especially for a beach like El Cura which is also known for it’s bustling nightlife. This Spanish beach’s recently revamped promenade has plenty of bars, restaurants, and food stalls. And, in addition to a nightly beach cleaner, El Cura also has great accessibility with seats in the sea that mean friends with mobility issues don’t have to miss out. Groups of friends travelling to Torrevieja recommend staying at the self-catered apartment Playa Los Locos.
Meia Praia Beach, Lagos, Portugal
Meia Praia Beach in Lagos
Meia Praia is a continuous 4km stretch of sand that even at it’s busiest never gets too crowded. Development has been slower to reach this area of Lagos (the city is only a 15-minute drive from the beach) and as a result there are plenty of independent, locally-owned cafés and bars dotted along the coast. There are plenty of large hotels clustered around the western end of Meia Praia and lifeguards are always on hand. Check out the uninterrupted sea views at The Salty Lodge and let the staff organise a surf lesson or a dolphin watching trip for your group.
Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia
Byron Bay in New South Wales
According to it’s residents, Byron Bay is the true home of the famously laid-back Australian lifestyle. That seems to translate into surfing at dawn, sunning all day, and then spending all night in one of the Bay’s bars. Travellers looking to break out of the traditional holiday routine can also brush up on their circus and burlesque skills, do some beachside yoga, go whale watching, kayaking, surfing, and even take in a crab catching cruise. Book into the Byron Resort and Spa to spend the night in a rainforest (only 9-minutes walk from the beach) before another early morning surf.
Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa Province, Vietnam
Nha Trang in Khanh Hoa Province
Nha Trang beach is at its best first thing in the morning, when temperatures are still relatively cool and daily snorkelling classes are held in the crystal clear sea. Hundreds of locals take their daily swim at this time – still leaving plenty of room for early-bird tourists – and breakfast at one of the seafront hotels like Mia Resort Nha Trang (which also organises free beach yoga classes) makes the whole thing even more idyllic. The day is for exploring, sunning, and relaxing by the sea, followed by a stroll and a meal at one of the beach’s relaxed restaurants, complete with front seats to the mesmerising Nha Trang sunsets.
Ao Nang Beach, Krabi Province, Thailand
Ao Nang Beach in Krabi Province
If you’re planning to backpack through Thailand this summer, make sure to stop at Ao Nang Beach for gorgeous sunsets and, more importantly, tension-loosening Thai massages. Once you’ve spent a few days relaxing on the beach Ao Nang has loads of great group activities, including mangrove tours, snorkelling, diving, and exploring the little islands dotted along the Krabi Province coastline. Or just book into some of the beach-facing luxury accommodation like Baan Habeebee Resort and enjoy a few days by the pool.