Spring beach breaks

Published on: Monday, March 22, 2010

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If you can't wait until summer to get your sun and sand fix, here are some ideas to help you enjoy the beach without the crowds or the searing heat.

Best for romance: Antigua and Barbuda

Average daily temperature in April: 26°C (78°F).
Why go? Caribbean tourism starts to slow at this time of year so April is perfect for an affordable tropical getaway. The island of Antigua has a beach for every day of the year, so there are plenty to choose from. Jabberwock Beach on the northeastern coast is a swath of white sand with warm waters that are perfect for a relaxing swim. The island of Barbuda is renowned for its wild beauty and deserted beaches – ideal for a romantic escape. Head to Palm Beach and laze on the shimmering spectacle of pink-tinged sand. It’s only accessible by boat so pack a picnic and enjoy the solitude with the one you love.
Insider tip: Take an excursion to Great Bird Island from Dickenson Bay. Glass-bottomed boats afford leisurely views of the reef, and a restored pirate ship sails around the island, taking passengers for day or evening trips.

Best for families: North Cyprus

Average daily temperature in April: 23°C (74°F).
Why go? Sunny days dominate the endless stretches of coastline in this Turkish-Cypriot part of the island. Take your pick from secluded spots, sandy beaches and rocky coves, overlooked by the pine-clad Kyrenia Mountains. Head off the beaten track and you’ll find Alagadi Turtle Beach, which can be enjoyed in spring before the nesting season – you may even see a turtle or two splashing around. Silver Beach in Famagusta has warm, shallow waters so is very safe for children, and the nearby ancient ruins will keep both the kiddies and adult explorers entertained.
Insider tip: Jump in a hire car with your beach gear and head for the Karpaz Peninsula for your pick of secluded spots for a relaxing family picnic.

Best for diving: Egypt

Average daily temperature in April: 25°C (77°F).
Why go? The richly coloured coral and marine life of the Red Sea is a magnet to visitors during Egypt’s sweltering summer season. Go there before June and you’ll have more room to stretch your limbs and snorkel in the calm, clear waters. Sharm el Sheikh has all the facilities of a popular tourist resort with diving schools to get you started and trips for more experienced divers.
Insider tip: If you prefer low-key lounging, head up the coast to the natural beauty of Nuweiba. Find shade under a thick palm grove and cool-off the shallow bay near the ruins of a Turkish fort.

Best for luxury: Dubai

Average daily temperature in April: 33°C (91°F).
Why go? April is a great time to head to the desert coast with warm temperatures offset by a cooling breeze. Exclusive resort-style hotels are in abundance, and you can bag luxury for less at this time of year. A long stretch of powdery white sand along Jumeirah Road provides the main beach area. It’s divided into sections and owned by private hotels (non-guests can pay to use them), as well as public areas such as Al Mamzar Park. Swimming in this part of the Arabian Sea is a unique experience, with a stunning architectural backdrop of hotels that would make any urban city proud.
Insider tip: Take a break from the beach and stroll through the cooling wind towers, cafés and art galleries of the pretty Bastakiya Quarter.

Best for nature: Bulgaria (Black Sea)

Average daily temperature in April: 23°C (74°F).
Why go? Head to Bulgaria’s south eastern coastline and enjoy a comfortable climate and picturesque surrounds. Abundant woodland provides shade and contrast to the swathes of golden sand along the Black Sea coast. St. Konstantin is one of many resorts tucked between the foliage and the sea, with a parkland setting and a local monastery as its namesake. Golden Sands boasts the largest beach, with surrounding parkland sloping down to the sea.
Insider tip: Nearby hot springs and mineral baths will give your skin a complete detox after soaking in the calm seawater.

Best for exclusivity : Taormina, Sicily

Average daily temperature in April: 20°C (68°F).
Why go? Taormina is Sicily’s most famous, upmarket and exclusive resort and is starting to warm up nicely in the spring months. The area has several coves and grottoes that can be explored and beach resorts are sheltered between a rocky mountain range and the Ionian Sea – ideal for grabbing a secluded spot. Hop on a cable car to reach the pebble beaches of Isola Bella and Mazzaro. In the summer the beaches are heaving but in April and May visitors can take a more leisurely approach to bagging a sunbed.
Insider tip: Feel like a star for the night and stay at the San Domenico Palace Hotel. Built on the site of a 15th-century monastery, the hotel is one of the finest in Italy, offering opulence and luxury with a superb restaurant, piano bar and heated pool with a wonderful view of Mount Etna and the bay below.