Paradise found


Having spent a few years travelling the world, I came across some of the most fabulous beaches and each time I had that same feeling of tranquility, forgetting about city life and the rat race.

I would wish that my family and friends could have been there also, just to see for themselves rather than having to listen to me and my stories. I remember when I was telling them about my travels, that it sometimes sounded unrealistic and they probably thought there was a little exaggeration in there somewhere, but the truth is, in my mind anyway, that these places were as good as I remembered them.

The one thing I couldn’t say about these places was where they ranked in the world’s top beaches as I don’t even believe there is such a thing. We all have our own ideas of what paradise is and we all have our own favorite beaches. Here I would like to share a little on some of the most beautiful places I have had the pleasure to discover…

Boulder Beach - The Baths, Virgin Gorda

The Baths – Virgin Gorda

The Baths Of Virgin Gorda – British Virgin Islands

The Baths of Virgin Gorda is most definitely in my own personal ”Beat beaches of the world”. The white sand surrounded by volcanic boulders, with great snorkeling and diving and hidden away. Although it is now the most popular tourist attraction in Virgin Gorda, it was back when I discovered it a very chilled spot, with not too many bathers.

Inside the Volcanic Grotto - Virgin Gorda

Inside the Granite Grotto – Virgin Gorda

The point of access to the beautiful Boulder Beach was gained by crawling through a gap in the rocks that took you into the grotto. Here you would wade through waist deep water, climb over some boulders and navigate for a few minutes before reaching your final destination…”Boulder Beach”

Saline Beach – St Barths, French West Indies

Another beach that was hidden away from the masses was a beach named ”Saline” in St Barths. It was at least a half kilometer long and easily seen from the sky but the beauty was that there were no developments in the surrounding area and at the time I used to visit this tranquil place, any shops, cafe’s, bars were a ten minute drive away.

Saline Beach - St Barths

Saline Beach – St Barths

Tourists would usually head for the beach at St Jean’s Bay, where the airport and hotels of the island were and who’s complaining?

Working on cruise ships for five years, gave me a chance to discover places off the tourist trail. We returned to these places many a time and had seen all the attractions; but the best days for me, were taking a jeep or scooter with some friends and just driving until we found a spot to chill, away from the hype. For me this was discovering paradise, my own paradise.

Velanio Beach – Skopelos, Aegean Sea 

My spot on Velanio Beach - Skopelos

My spot on Velanio Beach – Skopelos

The first time I arrived in Skopelos, it was only for a day. Having not much time to explore, I asked a friend who knew the island if he could recommend a place to visit. He started giving me directions to Velanio Beach (not a well known place at all…then).

Directions to Velanio via Stafylos

Directions to Velanio via Stafylos

”Take a taxi to Stafylos, get out the taxi and walk down the steps on the cliff face down to Stafylos Beach (a busy sandy beach)                                                                                                                                                

Keep walking down the beach until you nearly reach the end and you will see a gap in the trees with a little dirt trail, follow this trail until you come to a rock, climb over the rocks and voila…Paradise!

So off I go with a single piece of paper with the name ‘Stafylos’ written on it and hoping I’ve memorised the directions well. I take the taxi, walk down the steps, walk along the populated beach of Stafylos, find the gap in the trees, follow the little trail and then climb the rocks and just like my friend had said, ”Voila…Paradise!” This beach was not sand and instead was fine shells and stones, that were surprisingly very easy on the feet, in fact, walking along the beach felt a little like a reflexology session. What I found was maybe a half kilometer of beach and no more than thirty bathers. The water was as clear as I have ever seen and so refreshing. This was one of the most relaxed days of my life, a day I did not want to end and having to be onboard the ship at 9pm, I stayed there as long as I could and promised myself that next time, I would arrive without a watch and no schedule and be free to enjoy this great spot.

San Blas Islands – Panama

San Blas - Panama

                               San Blas – Panama

San Blas is a group of nearly 400 islands off the north coast of Panama, with around 10% inhabited. This was home to the Kuna Indians who were caught in a transitional period between traditions and the new world that was drawing them in. This was the unfortunate downside to tourism.

The main island, where most lived had little wooden shacks, locals sat out front selling wooden sculptures and hand stitched ‘Hard Rock Cafe, San Blas’ t-shirts, ok, this wasn’t part of the franchise but it was one of the coolest Hard Rock cafe’s I have ever visited, no tables or chairs or flooring, just a plank of wood for a bar top and some soft drinks on offer (Wish I still had a photo)

Dug out Canoe - San Blas

Dug out Canoe – San Blas

So you are looking for a beach, take your pick over 300 uninhabited islands that all have beautiful beaches. Without ships, many places would lay undiscovered by the majority. Our ship basically rented the island for the day and allowed our Crew and Passengers to simply chill and grill or get snorkeling and diving

Kuredu Resort – Maldives, Indian Ocean

I was fortunate enough to stay on this island in one of the beach villas. You could probably walk round this island resort in a half hour, with a Reception area and three restaurants situated in the centre of the island and the beach bungalows that went all around the island.

Kuredu Island Resort, Maldives

Kuredu Island Resort, Maldives

With all the climate changes and rising water levels, many believe that these stunning islands in the Indian Ocean will soon disappear. I do hope to get back sometime, to just chill and get away from the city.

What you do realise about visiting places many would consider ‘Paradise’ is that, you may think ‘wow, I could stay here forever’, but could you? Is there such a place? I have come across many people who have a dream location and would consider relocating there but would it continue to be the dream location or would it eventually be taken for granted. I had the same dreams but let’s be honest as good as it is, who wants to spend 365 days a year on a beach? I think I’d rather have little doses of paradise at a time, so I can continue to look forward to visiting again or discovering other favorites.

About the Author:

Damon in a consultant based in Scotland working in recruitment and renewable energy and is a fundraiser for Autism charities.

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