Archive - May 2013

OMG! World’s Best Beaches
In Pictures: The Beach Cathedrals of Spain
The Best Places to Scuba Dive in the World
Purple Tips: best beach bars in Greece
Purple Pick: Crete Family Holidays
Purple Hearts: the best beaches in the Algarve
Off the beaten track: Kefalonia Caves
12 Incredible Disney Secrets
Purple 10: The best budget stag and hen do ideas
Purple Tips: Family Holidays Gran Canaria

OMG! World’s Best Beaches

Stop what you’re doing. We’ve got your summer holiday sorted right now. News giant CNN has just released it’s 100 best beaches… in the world. Nice right? You’re telling us.

Grande Anse Beach, on La Digue Island, Seychelles takes the top spot, thanks to its secluded, hard-to-get to location. But they’ve also included a few that are easy to get to. Here’s our pick of not-quite-out-of-the-way beaches that are realistic options for next summer.

Falassarna Crete

 Image via @ Titanas

Falassarna Beach, Crete, Greece Crete, one of the most popular resorts from the UK, has Falassarna Beach, with an endless stretch of sand, and the biggest party on the island held on the first Saturday of each month. It’s at #100 on the list of World’s Best Beaches.


 Paradise Beach, Croatia via @ Wikicommons

Paradise Beach, Rab, Croatia Apparently the birthplace of skinny-dipping, Paradise Beach in Rab, Croatia is at #90 in the list.

la concha

La Concha beach via @ Javi S & M

La Concha, Spain Lined with a wealth of tapas bars, cafes and restaurants, La Concha is the perfect city beach, as the sea is absolutely worth a dip. Hits at #82.

Las Salinas

Las Salinas via @ sky_hlv

Las Salinas, Ibiza, Spain Only two Spanish beaches make the list, the second on in Ibiza, where Las Salinas is where most of the partying takes place. It makes #81.


Balos Beach via @ cabrito

Balos Beach, Greece Another Cretan choice, at #35 Balos Beach is all about colours – turquoise, blue and pinks, it even has a secret cave that’s worth exploring.


Image via @ Jaded_j

Navagio Beach, Greece Maybe the most famous beach in all of Greece, Navagio where an old smugglers ship has washed up, can only be visited by water taxi, and it’s well worth the trip. It’s at #32.

Also on the blog… 5 Brilliant Beach Bars in Greece


Image via @ Kelvyn Skee

Luskentyre Beach, Outer Hebrides Who would have thought a Scottish Beach would beat competition from the likes of Greece, the Caribbean and Spain? Well, that’s exactly what’s happened with Luskentyre Beach in the Outer Hebrides. Perfect for hiking and fresh air, you won’t get a tan at #16 but it is very beautiful.


Image via @ kololo

Tulum Beach, Mexico Mexico’s Tulum beach makes it much further up the list at #12. Famed for its breathaking golden sands, perfect turquoise water and the historic Yucatan cenotes.

In Pictures: The Beach Cathedrals of Spain

Praia das Catedrais 1

Image via @ jl.cernadas

The Praia das Catedrais beach is a natural work of art, found on the stunning shores of Galicia in Spain. With its own supernatural quality, it makes for an amazing day out off the beaten track.

Praia das Catedrais 2

Image via @ jl.cernadas

The Praia das Catedrais or, Beach of the Cathedrals in English, is named for the impressive and dramatic rock formations in the area.

Praia das Catedrais 3

Image via @ Majorshots

Praia das Catedrais 4

Image via @ Daniel Morell Cortés

Find out about more amazing places in the world from our Off the Beaten Track series.

The Best Places to Scuba Dive in the World

coral reefs pics

Images via @ Genalia Smith and Egypttravel gate

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

A living, breathing seafood soup, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the largest structure on the planet made entirely by living organisms. Expect a plethora of odd-looking, colourful and often endangered animals swimming at you from all angles. The reef is a UNESCO World Heritage site, containing some 1500 species of fish. It is without rival, the world’s largest coral reef system, even able to be seen from space. Make sure you get certified before you go though – you’re not Kate Bosworth ok.

Barrier Reef, Belize

Charles Darwin once called this reef “the most remarkable in the West Indies.” Its bubbling, warm waters are home to the world’s largest population of West Indian manatee, and manta ray and spotted eagle ray are fairly common sights. Even hammerhead sharks, Caribbean reef sharks and the oceanic white tip sharks can be spotted by luckier divers (or extremely unlucky, as the case may be). Cuddle with the friendly sea cows (not with the sharks), explore the mangrove-covered islands or swim over to the Big Blue Hole – allegedly the largest sinkhole on Earth. Jacques Cousteau named it his favourite diving spot – no surprise considering this 185-mile-long gigantic wall of unspoilt beauty packs more ecodiversity than any other on the planet.

Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

You’ll be hard-pressed to find water clearer than the Caribbean waves of Grand Cayman. The island is actually the peak of a mountain, and most of the surrounding former peaks are now underwater, offering sheer drops so you don’t have to go far from the coast to get deep. This also provides shelter from perilous conditions, providing calm and unspoilt beauty for divers. Make sure you check out Stingray City, a series of shallow sandbars, where stingrays have been tamed for years feeding on fisherman’s scraps.

Koh Tao, Thailand

Koh Tao is perfect for the low-budget traveller, as it is a relatively inexpensive place to learn to scuba dive. Thailand’s large Andaman coast offers hundreds of islands, many of which are uninhabited and fringed with spectacular coral reefs. Whale sharks inhabit the waters along with a kaleidoscope of brightly-coloured fish. However, the best bit about choosing Koh Tao is that it has as many nightclubs and bars on the island as there are fish in its sea, so if you’re not a serious diver, and you like your liquid as much in a cocktail glass as you like it enveloping your scuba suit, then this is the place for you.

Straits of Gubal, Egypt

Although primarily famous for those big hunks of pyramid-shaped mystery erupting from the sand, Egypt is also famous for its incredible diving spots. If you love history and you love diving, this is your spot. An affordable alternative to beaches in Europe or the Caribbean, Egyptian beaches along the Red Sea offer sun-filled holidays and unparalleled waters. The Straits of Gubal are a particularly interesting choice, having claimed dozens of ships over history; shipwrecks, pirate treasure and dead sailors are as much a part of the Sea as the water is and warm, bubbly, tropical coral reefs make the Red Sea feel like one big bathtub.

You should read: Purple Hearts… Sharm el Sheikh

Cozumel, Mexico

Although you may have to deal with the teenage shrieks of ‘Spring Break whoooooooo!’, Cozumel is not just a paradise for meathead jocks and bottle blonde cheerleaders. The warm, clear waters of this Atlantic superhighway make it a diver’s dream. The Gulf Stream in particular is a prime scuba spot – the experience lending itself to something on the long the lines of being Superman, only with more fish. But with nineteen distinct reefs to choose from and a host of deep dives that go down as far as 3,000 feet, Cozumel is a scuba diver’s playground. For awesome tunnels, caves and caverns, there are few better locations.

Purple Tips: best beach bars in Greece

Along with the perfect, well kept, golden sandy beaches, sparkling, crystal clear warm waters and buckets of sunshine, Greece is famous for its beach bars. Make it a mega summer with our top 5 best beach bars in Greece. Sit back, relax, grab a cocktail and enjoy!

Beach Bars in Greece: TherosImage via @ anjči

On the exclusive Eros beach in Santorini, you’ll find the exotic Theros Wave Bar. Made entirely of wood and right on the beach, there are plenty of loungers, transparent warm waters, and excellent service, it’s a relaxed choice for day or night to enjoy a refreshing mojito.

Beach Bars in Greece: superparadiseImage via @ Diego Cosenza

Just outside Mykonos Town, Super Paradise is where to see and be seen. It’s one of the most alternative beach bars on the island. It’s found in a beautiful bay, is nude friendly, and has excellent fresh cocktails. They say it best: “Super Paradise is for almost everyone who wants to have fun in the sun amidst an eclectic crowd, with or without your clothes.”

Banana beach barImage via @ banana beach bar 

Loud music, great cocktails, a stunning beach; you’d be hard pushed to find a better beach bar on Skiathos than Banana. Go with your mates to get your night out started, or with your other half to soak up a dreamy sunset.

UPDATE: It is believed that Banana Beach Bar might be closed now but there are other bars on Banana Beach so don’t worry if you go we are sure you will find an excellent place!


Image via @ sundayfundays

One of Corfu’s trendiest venues, the Aloha Bar packs them in all day and all night. The sun, sea and sand is the perfect combination for really letting loose on holiday and the cocktails are to die for.


Image via @ Nick Papakyriazis

BEACH BAR MANASSU, Sithonia-Halkidiki
The beaches in Halkidiki are like a secret that only Greeks know about. They are practically perfect, and just because it’s not an island does not mean you should stay away. The Beach Bar Manassu is a great choice. It is renovated every year to give customers a new experience every time. Its unique architecture, great service and delicious cocktails make it a must-see on any holiday.

Purple Pick: Crete Family Holidays


Family beaches

Marathi Beach is ideal for Crete family holidays with small children. It’s very protected, the water is calm and even in August when the famous Meltemi winds are high, this stays more sheltered than most. Grab your bucket and spade and head for the beach!

Elafonisi is a bit of a trek, but the water is clear and perfect and it’s great for swimming. About two hours from Chania, it’s well worth the day trip and the kids will love it.

Stalis Beach is very clean and just a short drive from Heraklion. Boasting the softest of sands and very clean waters. Just watch out if the wind picks up as the water can get a bit choppy.

You should read… The best family friendly beaches in Crete

Time travel

The old town in Chania makes for a great afternoon of exploring. It’s a little touristy, but we’re willing to bet kids will enjoy watching the boats come in at the harbour, stopping for ice cream in a cafe and wandering the winding streets.

Knossos Palace is a huge site where kids can learn about life dating as far back as 1900 BC. The best option is to get a tour guide to show you around and enthral you and your kids with the legends of ancient Minoan society.

Food in Crete is a way of life. Cretans take their food very seriously. So why not head out for an evening enjoying local favourites like dakos, dolmades or bougatsa for breakfast.

You should read… What to eat in Crete

Days Out

There are thousands of caves dotted throughout the island; Head for Dikteon Cave, on the Lassithi Plateau in the east of Crete, where legend has it Zeus was born. It’s open every day, so if you get fed up of the beach, it’s an obvious choice.

The Museum of Sea Life in Rethymno is located in a former abbey and has a huge display of all kinds of fish, fossils and shells, offering a good afternoon out.

Hike a gorge definitely one for more active or older children, Crete is actually home to several spectacular gorges. There are routes right along the coast and although some of them can be tough, it’s well worth it for the views out to see. Head for the Samaria Gorge, one of Europe’s longest at 18km.

The Aquaworld Aquarium and Reptile Rescue Centre in Hersonissos is the perfect way to discover the underwater world. Learn about the marine life of Crete with hundreds of fish and reptiles, get your picture taken with an unusual reptile and get up close and personal with a shark.

Water Parks

Aqua Plus in Hersonissos has tonnes of water rides to suit all ages. Just check out the names they’ve given the rides, how could anyone resist giving the Acquaslalom, Black Holes, Kamikaze Hydrotube or Crazy River a go?

WaterCity in Heraklion is the largest water park on the island. Offering 36 different slides, pools and amusements, as well as a couple of bars and restaurants, you can spend all day long here and not get tired.

Image via @ gterez

Purple Hearts: the best beaches in the Algarve

Praia da Rocha Maybe the most famous beach resort in the Algarve, or in the whole of the country, Praia da Rocha’s Blue Flag status, golden sands and excellent facilities (loungers, umbrellas and water sports) make it a top choice throughout the summer. It’s found close to the bustling and lively resort of Portimao and is one of the best beaches in the Algarve.

Praia da rocha from

Image via @ CesarGP

Praia da Marinha regularly featured in Portugal’s tourism advertisements, Praia da Marinha offers absolutely stunning natural beauty, with huge rocks dotted throughout the crystal clear waters. Near Lagoa, it’s also a hot choice for snorkelling enthusiasts too.

Praia da Marinha

Praia da Marinha via @ MiguelVieira

Read more: The best Beaches in Gran Canaria

Praia do Homem Nu If you feeling like baring all, head for this nudist beach a short ferry ride from Tavira. This is one of two official nudist beaches in the Algarve and has excellent facilities and gorgeous views.

Praia do Homem Nu

Praia do Homem Nu via @ jrg261

Praia do Ancao Close to the excellent Vale do Lobo resort, Praia do Ancao is somewhat of a hidden gem. Tucked away behind a mass of dunes, the wide, sandy beach is sheltered from the elements and the crowds. This Blue Flag beach also has excellent facilities with loungers, umbrellas and restaurants and toilets.

Vale do Lobo

Praia do Ancao via @ Wikicommons

Praia de Barreta on a practically deserted island, the untouched sands of Praia de Barreta make it a perfect choice for total relaxation. This Blue Flag beach is away from the crowds and is accessible by boat. There are basic facilities, with loungers, umbrellas and a couple of snack bars.

Ilha Deserta

Ilha Deserta via @ Thilo Hilberer

Read more: Purple Hearts Lisbon

Praia do Carvoeiro Another Blue Flag favourite near Lagoa, this one has extensive facilities, such as loungers, umbrellas and lots of restaurants or snack bars. However, it still manages to retain a quiet atmosphere and the caves nearby are well worth a visit.

Praia do Carvoeiro

Praia do Carvoeiro via @

Praia do Beliche Sagres’ best kept secret, this beach is a taste of the real beauty of the Algarve. Huge cliffs serve as a backdrop offering protection to the waters too. There are a lot of steps down to this secluded beach, so bear this in mind. It’s not really developed, so grab a picnic to take with you, or head for one of the restaurants on the neighbouring road. 

Praia do Beliche

Praia do Beliche via @ 07janeka

Off the beaten track: Kefalonia Caves

Along with its stunning beaches, fantastic weather and natural beauty, Kefalonia has a couple of hidden gems that really stand out. Some of our favourites include the natural splendour of the island’s caves.

The Cave of Melissani is of unique beauty and is best explored by boat. The cave appears to be in the sun’s direct spotlight, thanks to the gaping hole in the top that allows rays to pour in, flooding the cavern with a soft blueish light.

Mellissani Cave

Image via @ Zolakoma

melissani cave

Image via @ Gellybean

μελισσανι κεφαλονιαImage via @ gravegirl

The Cave of Drogaratis is a 150 million year-old cave featuring red stalactites and stalagmites. However the highlight of the cave is a hall named “Sala of Apotheosis”, thanks to its perfect acoustics. Filled with concerts and shows, this is an unmissable treat when you’re next on Kefalonia.

4641720589_d87cd45917_zImage via @ Drake391980

DrogaritiImage via @ PapaPiper

Drogariti 3Image via @ PapaPiper

Find out about more amazing places in the world from our Off the beaten track series.

12 Incredible Disney Secrets

disney characters

Image via @ Jeff Wignal

  1. At the end of every day, when herds of worn out, nauseous, sunburned park visitors have all left the premises, the Disney crew releases the cats. And by that we mean actual, four-legged, furry, feral felines, not Simba or one of the Aristocats. Cats play a vital role in the maintenance of the park, released every night to control its mouse population – there’s only room for two mice in the park and those are Mickey and Minnie.
  2. More than 600 million guests have visited Disneyland since opening day and every year, these guests consume an estimated 3 million hamburgers, 2 million hot dogs, 6.5 million orders of french fries, 1.6 million servings of popcorn, 3.2 million servings of ice cream, 1.9 million gallons of soft drinks and 2.8 million churros.
  3. One of the cleverest Disney Secrets? Disneyland Park does not sell chewing gum because Walt Disney wanted to keep the park clean.
  4. Originally, Disney cast members and even guests of the park, where not allowed to have moustaches, the reason being that Disney wanted to maintain that clean, all American look. Today, guests can have whatever facial hair they like but as far as cast members are concerned, they’re still a no-go.
  5. Mickey Mouse symbols were hidden all over the park by Disney’s architects and engineers (or Imagineers). You can find Mickey on the dining table in the Haunted Mansion made out of a plate and saucers, among the treasures of Jack Sparrow on The Pirates of the Caribbean and hundreds of other locations.
  6. Up until 2001, Disney staff was not allowed to bring their own underwear when they were in character in case it bunched up and became visible under the costume. Instead, cast members were issued company jock straps, cycling shorts or tights, which they had to hand in at the end of every day to be washed with their costumes – pretty gross, huh? Of all the perks you can get pre-faced by the word “company,” “jock strap” really falls short – way below “company car” and “company credit card”, that’s for sure.
  7. Splash Mountain earned a reputation a few years ago for being the perfect place for drunken youths to flash the cameras. Becoming known as Flash Mountain, the situation got so bad that Disney were forced to create a position solely to search through the ride photos for rogue genitalia before displaying them on the video screens.
  8. Disneyland creator Walt Disney was the original voice of Mickey Mouse for two decades, winning more Oscars (32) than anyone else in history. And what’s more? He attended only one year of high school.
  9. The latest weird trend at Disney is for folks to have their ashes buried in the grounds of rides, the most popular of which is the Haunted Mansion. Security and custodial crews actually have to closely monitor surveillance and even walk the length of the track after-hours to look for suspicious piles of ash and bone fragments.
  10. When Disneyland was under construction, Walt Disney had a private apartment installed over the historic fire station on Main Street in order to supervise the builders. When complete, he and his family continued to use the apartment frequently, leaving a light burning in the window to symbolize his presence. Since Disney’s death in 1966, the light has been left on in honour of his memory.
  11. Gay Days is a week or so out of the year where the homosexual community comes together as a group at Disneyland Resort. To this date, Disney steadfastly refuses to acknowledge that Gay Days is a real thing despite tens of thousands of participants.
  12. Many a Disney cast member has gone on to international fame (most likely not those who were employed to look out for flashers on Splash Mountain or pick up ashes of guerrilla Disney burials). From the age of 10 to 18, comedian Steve Martin worked at the park, beginning by selling guide books at the gate, then selling souvenir spinning lassos in Frontierland, until his final position selling packaged magic tricks and joke novelties at the old Merlin’s Magic Shop in Fantasyland. There he became an accomplished magician, learnt to juggle from Disneyland Court Jester, Christopher Fair, and modelled his trademark, “Well, excuuuuuse me,” phrase on the exasperated outbursts of a woman he worked with at the park.

You should read… the best film themed hotel rooms

Purple 10: The best budget stag and hen do ideas

Buckle up! The experts at Purple Travel have put together this list of the best budget stag and hen do ideas. Call our dedicated stag and hen do team on 0207 993 9228 for more.

For the stag

Best Stag dos from Prague Home to a weird, wacky stag party with the best in cheap beers, beer bikes and beer baths. The Czech capital is one of the hottest stag destinations, it’s not only a beautiful city, but is a good laugh and great value too.
2. Benidorm The classic Stag do, Benidorm holds its own with lap dance clubs, some of the best superclubs you’ll visit in your life, and days of karting or boozing on the beach all at decent prices.
3. Amsterdam It’s hard to pick a more classic stag do choice than the Dutch city of Amsterdam for a stag party to remember (or forget.) The Red Light District is filled with beautiful women, the bars are great and there’s plenty of culture if that’s your bag too.
4. Barcelona A bit of footie at the Nou Camp, a few cervezas on the Ramblas por favor and the hottest Spanish senoritas, Barcelona ticks all the boxes for a great cheap stag party.
5. Budapest Cheap beer, all night parties, strippers or tank driving, Buda and Pest, the city of two halves has everything you could possibly want on a good value stag do.

Get the best cheap stag do from the expert team today at Purple Travel.

For the hen

Best Hen dos from

1. Magaluf Oh come on! Magaluf or Shagaluf is the ultimate last hurrah to single life. 24 hour partying, knocking back cocktails, great cheap hotels, buckets of sunshine and lots of like minded people. A cheap hen party in Magaluf is our top choice for summer 2013.
2. Albufeira, a sunshine favourite, Albufeira, is a quick transfer from Faro airport and has a strip over a mile long of the most wicked clubs and bars with cheap drinks, dancing music and hot guys. In the daytime you could head for the famous beachfront to recover and get ready for more.
3. Ibiza C’mon, is there a more ultimate party destination than Ibiza? All night dancing in some of the best clubs in the world, we’re talking Pacha, Space or Amnesia. For the indie hen there’s a nice alternative in Ibiza Rocks. The beaches are the ultimate balm for the morning after the night before and there are great value hotels or apartments all over.
4. Amsterdam Away from the Red Light bits that keep all stag parties interested, Amsterdam is actually a great city. It’s only a short flight away, you can grab a bike to discover the city by day, head for a cafe in the early evening and kick off your night out with a pole dancing lesson, or cocktail making class.
5. Barcelona who wants a rainy spa weekend in the Lake district, when you could go all out in the bars, clubs and beaches of Catalonia’s favourite city. Stock up on tapas, soak up sangria by the jug and get up close and personal with all those sexy Spanish men.

Get the best cheap hen do from the expert team today at Purple Travel.

Purple Tips: Family Holidays Gran Canaria

Purple Tips: Family Holidays Gran Canaria

It doesn’t really matter what time of year you go, the eternal springtime weather that characterises all the Canary Islands makes it a hot choice for family friendly fun. Choose Gran Canaria for great value family friendly hotels, brilliant sunshine and relaxed beaches and tonnes of activities for you and your tots.

water babies

Image via @ Pink Sherbet

Family friendly beaches

The long beach of Playa de Las Canteras is really well organised, with changing rooms, loungers and lots of space. It’s a top choice for families thanks to its calm waters, ideal for children thanks to the shelter provided by a natural reef.

Playa de Puerto Rico is a big favourite too. There are lots of water sports available so it might suit older children who want to have a go at banana boating. There are lots of facilities and the golden sand and clear sea will impress mum and dad too.

Water Babies

Take advantage of the numerous water activities on offer in Gran Canaria for a memorable and fun-filled break with your children. Just try some underwater diving, snorkeling or kayaking.

Natural Swimming pools

A peaceful alternative to the beach, the famous natural swimming pools of the Canaries are a choice day out offering relaxation or diving, sunbathing and splashing. We like Las Salinas Charco de San Lorenzo and Los Charcones, Arucas.

A taste of the wild west in the Canaries

Fancy a wild west experience in the sunshine of Gran Canaria. It might be the other side of the world but Sioux City captures the feeling of being a cowboy with lively shows, zoos featuring snakes, bison, raccoon, meercats and an alligator swamp as well as plenty of BBQ’d treats.

Palmitos Park in Maspalomas allows kids and grownups to get up close and personal with dolphins, birds of prey, flamingos and all sorts of exotic reptiles. A combined ticket to Palmitos and Aqualand gives a 15% discount too.

camel ride

Image @

Animal Magic

A ride on the back of one of a camel is one of the most fun, exotic experiences you can have while you’re on a family holiday in the Gran Canaria. Head for the Camello Safari Dunas route to admire the stunning landscape formed by the Maspalomas Dunes, a Protected Nature Reserve. Or, why not hop on to a glass bottomed boat, and soak up the undersea view of whalers or dolphins in the waters around the island.

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