Sandy paradises for bucket-and-spade holidays
What makes a beach perfect for families? Is it the talcum-powder like sand that shovels easily into buckets (and sometimes, mouths), the shallow waters, perfect for paddling and making moats, rock pools at low tide for foraging? Perhaps it is a rocky outcrop or two for shade and perhaps a bit of climbing? Or is a nearby snack bar as essential as sun block?
Read on for Cheapflights' selection of the best family beaches in some of our most searched for family destinations. Disagree or have an undiscovered gem you'd like to share? Let us know by leaving a comment here.
Portals Vells, Majorca
About 8km (5 miles) from Magaluf. Three sandy coves (Platja de Portals Vells III, II, I, also known as sa Caleta, sa Platgeta and Platja del Rei) with shallow waters surrounded by fir-tree dotted cliffs. Portals Vells is a tiny cove perfect for paddling, sand-castle building and exploring.
Search and compare: cheap flights to Majorca
Gökova (officially Akyaka) Turkey, near Marmaris
This is where the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts meet. The shingle beach at Cinar, a five-minute drive away, is surrounded by pine trees. A fresh water stream divides the beach in two providing a wonderful mix of nature and sea.
Search and compare: cheap flights to Marmaris
The beaches of Lagos, Portugal
Praia de Dona Ana, Praia do Camilo and Meia Praia. Walk from cove to cove through the rocky outcrops. The sands are soft and golden, the sea blue and sparkling and the cliffs red and towering against cloudless blue skies.
Search and compare: cheap flights to Faro
Playa Blanca, Lanzarote
The sea is shallow, calm and clear, and protected by a breakwater on each side. The beach is crescent-shaped and soft-sanded, perfect for building sand castles. Civilisation is close by - cafes, restaurants and supermarkets provide refreshment for another few hours on the beach.
Search and compare: cheap flights to Lanzarote
Cyprus - pretty much all of them
Forty-nine beaches fly the EU Blue Flag, giving some indication of how family-friendly this island's shores are. Silver Beach in Famagusta, North Cyprus, is short on facilities, but long on child-friendly waters and gently shelving sands. Quiet Golden Sands is where North Cyprus' breeding sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. Altinkaya beach, west of Kyrenia, has sweeping sands and shallow waters. Alagadi beach is known as Turtle Beach. The longest stretch of sandy beach on the northern coast it has sand dunes for playing hide and seek and offers a majestic view of the Five Finger Mountains.
Search and compare: cheap flights to Cyprus
Gerakas Beach, Greece
Located at the southernmost tip of Vassilikos peninsula on Zakynthos, Gerakas is a sea-turtle nesting site, perfectly quiet and suitable for small children. There are four tavernas within a five-minute walk and there is a a shop by the car park that sells ice creams and beach toys.
Search and compare: cheap flights to Greece
Sardinia - all of it
The island off the coast of Italy has the cleanest waters and the sandiest beaches - there are hundreds of them all baking under almost endless sun and lapped by shimmering waters. To save on Sardinia travel look towards the Coral Coast on the northwestern side of the island and away from the pricier Costa Smeralda. It's hard to choose just two family-friendly beaches but Torre del Lazzaretto, near Alghero, with paddle-able waters and S’Abba Druche, south along the coastal road from Alghero to Bosa, boasts not just a sandy cove but has warm rock pools for exploring.
Search and compare: cheap flights to Sardinia
Travelling with children
Family ski resorts
Updated December 2011