Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Life's a Beach (Part 1)

Streets Beach, Brisbane
Last year I was commissioned to write an article for the inflight magazine of Air Australia, a budget airline which offered flights to leisure destinations. A year later the airline went into liquidation, but luckily I'd been paid by then.

As the airline has departed this mortal coil and its inflight mag is but a fading memory, I thought you might enjoy the piece I wrote for it, featuring beaches across its then network. So sit back, relax, and think of sandy shores...

“All the world’s a stage,” wrote William Shakespeare, but he might as well have said “All the world’s a beach.”

Through Asia, Australia and the Pacific there are beaches of every type, hosting every attraction. Whether you’re after a rest, a meal, a party or a spot of retail action, there’s a sandy shore out there for you. Here’s a selection of the best.

Shopping Beach: Seminyak Beach, Bali

There’s a reason Redgum wrote their famous song I’ve Been to Bali Too back in 1984 - even then, the Indonesian island’s Kuta Beach was a magnet for tourists. But just a little further along the same stretch of coast is Seminyak Beach. It’s not as crowded and beats Kuta hand over fist in one particular area: shopping.

A few hundred metres back from the beach you’ll find Jalan Raya Seminyak, with interesting shops selling clothing and accessories. Some places worth checking out are Biasa for cutting-edge clothing (Jl Raya Seminyak 36), Body & Soul for cool fashion and swimwear (Jl Raya Seminyak 11), and Mario Silver for jewellery (Jl Raya Seminyak 19).

Romantic Beach: Kahala Beach, Hawaii

An alternative to Hawaii’s famous Waikiki Beach is nearby Kahala Beach, in a beautiful location with views of sand, surf, palm trees and a mountainous backdrop. As a popular wedding venue, it’s common to see at least one or two couples tying the knot here over the course of a few hours.

It’s a public beach, but as it’s near the Kahala Hotel & Resort you can dine quite close to the sands. The resort also contains the popular Dolphin Quest attraction, allowing visitors to swim with the dolphins.

City Beach: Streets Beach, Brisbane

Directly across the Brisbane River from the city’s central business district is Southbank, a pleasant zone of culture and public gardens. An unconventional highlight here is Streets Beach. This artificial swimming spot, with its imported sand and lifesavers in red and yellow, is a touch of light-hearted fun in the heart of Brisbane.

Its human-crafted lagoon and sandy shores are generally packed with people enjoying the novelty of being at a riverside beach in the inland capital of a state famous for its coastal beaches. And it has an impressive view of the glass and steel towers soaring above the mangroves on the opposite shoreline.

Surf Beach: Sunset Beach, Hawaii

If you’re a surfer and you’re up for a challenge, head to Sunset Beach on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. One of the world’s great surf beaches, it’s the home of such great competitions as the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing. Winter is the best time for waves, though surfing its mighty breaks is not recommended for inexperienced board riders.

Even without a board, its wide stretch of sand is a great place to sunbathe, and people also snorkel, bodysurf and bodyboard here. And as you’ve guessed, it’s a top spot from which to view a glorious sunset.

Dining Beach: Surin Beach, Phuket

If you’re feeling a bit exhausted by the hawkers and lively activity of most Thai beaches, Surin may be the cure. It’s more secluded than other beaches on Phuket, so is much favoured by local millionaires and visiting celebrities. It’s a pretty beach with white sand and clear water, but one of the best things to do here is eat at its long strip of Thai restaurants.

Three to look out for are Mr Crab (specialising, unsurprisingly, in crab), Twin Brothers, serving international dishes including popular pizzas, and Patcharin Seafood. Further south off Kamala Beach within the Andara Resort is the upmarket Silk, serving Thai dishes in classy premises.

Next post: A party beach, a secluded beach and a really-getting-away-from-it-all beach; but sadly no Gangnam-style beach...