European Beach Holidays
Happily the beautiful beaches of the Med are within a few hours flight of the UK. Spain holds many of the most popular options - just head for the Costas! From the bustling resorts of Costa Blanca to hidden coves along Costa Brava, it's not an exaggeration to say you are spoiled for choice.
Barcelona is just a short flight away for those who want a city-scaped beach right near the action. A mere half-an-hour walk from the city centre, you can go from the stunning interiors of the Sagrada Familia to Barceloneta beach in no time. Another similar city-by-the-sea option is Benidorm, which is just as close to fly to from the UK.
Neighbouring Portugal is home to some of Europe's greatest (and award-winning) shores along its sun-soaked Algarve coast. From Tavira to Albufeira and Lagos, honey-coloured sands meet the Atlantic Ocean. You can choose from buzzing, people-lined beaches to serene and out-of-the-way swathes of sand.
Pick a Balearic island from Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera. Majorca and Ibiza tend to be the buzzing, more touristy counterparts of their sleepy, serene sisters Menorca and Formentera.
Island-hopping should be reserved for the likes of Greece so you can experience its stunning isles, from Santorini to Skiathos.
Tropical Beach Holidays
If you like your beaches to have a more exotic flavour, head over to Cancun where sunshine holidays consist of margaritas and plenty of blindingly white shores to set up camp. Cancun's Hotel Zone boasts 22 kilometres of beaches - try out Playa Chac-Mool, Playa Marlin and Playa Delfines.
Or try the Caribbean, home to some of the best beaches in the world. Turtle Beach in Barbados will make you feel you've walked onto a postcard, Antigua is home to 365 beaches and Varadero Beach in Cuba combines sugar-white sands with a fascinating culture.
The neighbouring Bahamas archipelago frequently heads up lists of dream destinations. Little wonder with 700 islands and cays brimming with picturesque beaches. Head to for Cable Beach for watersports and gambling at the nearby casino, for snorkelling try Paradise Lagoon Beach and aim for Goodman's Bay for a family day out.
From Phuket and Koh Samui to Krabi, there are paradise islands in their dozens on a beach holiday in Thailand. And being on the Baht puts a decidedly bargain price on a tropical holiday. Head to Koh Phi Phi to get a glimpse of the shore the book The Beach made famous.
A little less far-flung, the desert city of Dubai has plenty of beaches to its name. Walk along the promenade at JBR Beach, lounge in luxury on Nasimi Beach or take in the views of the famous Burj al Arab on Black Palace Beach.
Family Beach Holidays
Families should book a cheap beach holiday in the many Spanish resorts on offer. Places like Benidorm and Costa del Sol are a short, manageable flight away, and the wealth of activities, from waterparks to beaches, will keep everyone busy.
The Canary Islands, and their perpetual sunny skies, are also a good bet for families. Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote all have watersports, parks, shops and beaches that will keep both kids and adults happy while Fuerteventura is a good bet if you're looking for quieter beach holidays away from the crowds.
The Sunshine State of Florida is always a crowd-pleaser too. Not only does it have plenty of beaches with calm waters to swim in but it's home to Disney-themed amusement parks, plenty of wildlife and cost-effective holidays deals making it an easy choice for families.