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The best secret beaches of the Med – and how to reach them

The Mediterranean coastline is full of secret coves and slivers of sand, where the pace of life suddenly slackens, and a lunchtime picnic can last till sunset. You'll need to go for a walk, or jump on a boat, to find them. But stunning scenery and a lack of crowds make them worth every ounce of effort. Here are six of the best.

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Six secret beaches in the Med for summer 2019

Lalaria Beach, Skiathos, Greece

Lalaria beach, Skiathos
Photo: © Municipality of Skiathos

Skiathos may be famous for its golden swathes of sand, packed with summer visitors, but Lalaria is different. Here, the rugged landscape of the north plunges straight into the sea, and throws out a silver skirt of pebbles as it hits the water. Unless you’re a mountain goat, the only way to get there is by boat, and the first sight of its shimmering stones, as you chug along the coast, is worth the trip on its own. The only pity is that you have to get back on the boat at the end of the day.

Best for: Artistic inspiration. Take your sketchpad and capture Lalaria’s glorious stone arch in your very own masterpiece. The light is amazing.

Lalaria beach, Skiathos
Photo: © Municipality of Skiathos

How to get to there

Fly from Ireland to Skiathos in July from €215 return*. Pick up a hire car at the airport, and drive the 10km to the Skiathos Princess Hotel – a family-run seafront hotel with a chic, sharp-edged tavern. The hotel can arrange a private boat trip out to Lalaria beach, or you can head to Skiathos port and book yourselves onto one of the daily excursions.

Get to know your Ios from your Naxos, or spot the difference between Santorini and Skiathos. Get the best tips from our guide to 20 beautiful Greek islands for 2019.

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Es Portitxol, Ibiza, Spain

It’s hard to believe Europe’s party island is home to such a secret spot. But there it is, hidden away on the north coast – a miniature fjord that opens into a circular bay, where local fishermen keep their boats. Edged with cliffs and crags, and backed by tree-covered hills, it seems to belong not just to another island, but a different century. Bring trainers or boots for the walk, and sandals for when you arrive, because both the beach and seabed are quite rocky.

Best for: The ultimate post-party detox.

Whitewashed houses in Ibiza, Spain

How to get there

Fly from Ireland to Ibiza in July from €193 return*. Pick up a hire car and head to Can Planells, a small and charming countryside hotel, wreathed in flowers. From here, the start of the footpath to Es Portitxol is only a short drive north, at the Urbanizacion Isla Blanca (the trail head is marked on Google Maps). The 2km walk is along a good (but sometimes steep) track, and comes with a never-ending sense of “wow”, thanks to the clifftop sea views.

Discover 10 must-see destinations for your next trip to Spain.

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Spiaggia della Paolina, Elba, Italy

La Paolina, Elba
Photo: © R.Ridi/

The story goes that Paolina, Napoleon’s sister, used to sunbathe on the rocky islet just offshore. It’s certainly a beautiful spot. And the big boulders on the far side, poking into the sea, are perfect for a Kate Winslet moment, pretending you’re on the prow of the Titanic. Meanwhile, back on the “mainland” you can rent a sunlounger or a pedalo from the modest beach club, or spread out a towel on the mix of sand and pebbles. Come in the morning, when it’s at its sunniest, and don’t leave the island without a bottle of Acqua dell’Elba scent, produced in one of the world’s prettiest perfumeries.

Best for: Sipping espresso to a soundtrack of the sea – courtesy of the beachclub’s small café/restaurant.

One of the best secret beaches of the Med is near Pisa, Italy

How to get there

Fly from Ireland to Pisa in June from €91 return*. Pick up a hire car at the airport and drive to Piombino to catch the Elba island ferry. The elegant four-star Hotel La Perla del Golfo on the beach at Procchio is a relaxing base. And you can make your discovery of La Paolina even more memorable by renting a kayak and paddling there (it takes about 30 minutes).

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Sunj Cove, Lopud Island, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Sunj Cove, Lopud Island
Photo: © Andrija Carli/Croatian National Tourist Board

Car-free and carefree, this tiny island – less than five square kilometres and with just 200 residents – ticks every box for beach-lovers seeking secret shores. There’s not much on the island beyond a small harbour sprinkled with faded aristos’ mansions, and a 2km walk brings you to the horseshoe-shaped cove of Sunj on its southern shore. Here, sugary-soft sand and the glass-like calm of the Adriatic awaits. Come in September when the figs ripen, and you’ll be able to pick your dessert straight off the trees.

Best for: Teaching your nippers how to swim – the water is shallow and safe.

Dubrovnik, Creatia

How to get there

Fly from Ireland to Dubrovnik in September from €132 return*. Pick up a car at the airport and drive 22km to Villa Orsula, a lovingly restored 1930s villa five minutes from Dubrovnik old town. The ferry from Dubrovnik to Lopud Island takes about an hour.

If you’re a Games of Thrones fan don’t miss a tour around the stunning Dubrovnik locations where scenes from the series were shot.

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Calo des Moro, Mallorca, Spain

Calo des Moro, Mallorca
Photo: © Climent Picornell/Agència de Turisme de les Illes Balears

Don’t worry about the ‘private property’ sign on the approach road. This 40m strip of fine-grained sand on Mallorca’s southern-most tip is open to the public. The walk down from the car is a little precarious, but it’s well worth the occasional wobble on the footpath. Here, a finger of turquoise water wiggles between low cliffs before escaping into the sea and is heated to a bath-like temperature by the sun. It’s best visited midweek in September because even just a few extra explorers like yourself can make the place feel cluttered.

Best for: Splashing about in the Bombay Sapphire shallows with a snorkel and mask.

Fly to Palma de Mallorca before you drive out to one of the Med's best secret beaches

How to get there

Fly from Ireland to Palma from €70 return* in September. Pick up a hire car at the airport and drive 15km to Cap Rocat, an alluring fortress-style hotel with a spa. From here, it’s a 45-minute drive to the Calo des Moro car park. Then it’s just a few hundred metres on foot.

The Balearics’ largest city is far more than just a looker. Discover the top things to do in Palma de Mallorca in 2019.

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Imgiebah Bay, Malta

Imgiebah Bay, Malta
Photo: ©

It’s a simple proposition: two rocky headlands, a patchwork of ancient terraced fields, and – in between – a gorgeous stretch of turquoise sea, tailor-made for swimming. There’s even a scrap of sand along the water’s edge (something of a rarity in Malta) but with the water temperature nudging 27C in July the chances are you won’t be sitting on it for long. Imgiebah Bay is popular with boaties, who love to drop anchor and take the plunge from their sterns, but few other tourists venture this far north. Pack a big enough picnic to last till the evening, and watch the sun go down on a memorable day.

Best for: A rucksack full of sandwiches made with traditional ħobża bread.

Mdina, Malta

How to get there

Fly from Ireland to Malta in July from €121 return*. Pick up a hire car at the airport and drive 11km to the Xara Palace hotel – a 17th-century boutique hotel in the medieval city of Mdina with endless rooftop views of the island. From there, it’s a 25-minute drive to Selmun in the north east. Follow the main road to its end, then park up and scamper down the hill to get to the beach.

From Malta to Monaco, we take a tour of Europe’s tiniest nations and share the best tips for your holidays there in 2019.

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Discover the best secret beaches in the Mediterranean

Best secret beaches of the Med for 2019

1. Lalaria Beach, Skiathos, Greece
2. Es Portitxol, Ibiza, Spain
3. Spiaggia della Paolina, Elba, Italy
4. Sunj Cove, Lopud Island, Dubrovnik, Croatia
5. Calo des Moro, Mallorca, Spain
6. Imgiebah Bay, Malta

*Updated April 2019. All flight prices mentioned in this article are estimates of the cheapest prices as found using Skyscanner’s flight search tool, for return flights from Ireland, 1 person, economy. These are subject to change and were correct at time of writing on 21th April 2019.

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