Updated: Fri, 27 Jan 2012 13:15:00 GMT | By Annabelle Thorpe, contributor, MSN Travel
Best winter beaches

Oualidia, Morocco



Oualidia, Morocco (© Alberto Coto_Getty Images)
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  • Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul. (© Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)
  • Porto Santo, Portugal (© Holger Leue_LP)
  • Laguna, Egypt (© Anna Segeren_Rex Features)
  • Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain (© Ruth Eastham and Max Paoli_LP)
  • Oualidia, Morocco (© Alberto Coto_Getty Images)
  • Famara Beach, Lanzarote (© Andreas Weibel_Getty Images)
  • Plage des 5000 Ans, Tunisia (© Grayce Roessler_Getty Images)
  • Meads Bay, Anguilla (© Danita Delimont_Getty Images)
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Forget windy Essaouira and crowded Agadir and head instead to the pretty village of Oualidia, located around an 11km lagoon. All beach life is here; windsurfers and water sports fans on the Atlantic, families and sunbathers on the calm stretch of sand inside the lagoon, and couples setting forth for romantic afternoons on the small boats that sail to the opposite, quieter side of the lagoon.

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Best winter beachesDon't put your sarong into storage just yet - our expert beach author reveals the best places to jet to for a spot of sand and sun.Annabelle Thorpecontributor, MSN Travel2011-12-01T17:15:002012-01-27T13:15:00true159961723Blackpool, north-west England(©Ian Graham)Blackpool beats Cornwall as top coastal spotGallery15674718918 Montenegro(©Visar Kryeziu_PA)World’s cleanest beachesGallery157432092Croyde Bay, Devon(©Simon-Roberts_Rex-Features)England's cleanest beachesGallery158189350Arne Nature Reserve, Dorset(©Rob Smith)Britain's best secret beachesGallery15893051112. Weymouth(©Glenn Beanland_LP)Best British seaside townsGallery159655667Cayo Espanto, Belize(©Www.aprivateisland)Yours for only £190,000 a week: a private islandGalleryOur beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.Sotavento, Fuerteventura, Spain One for water-sports lovers, the vast stretch of sand at Sotavento stretches down the south-east coast of the island, and is renowned for its year-round winds and warm temperature. The beach is dotted with resort areas, but there are long stretches between that are totally free of development - perfect for lazy afternoons watching the kite-surfers leap and twist above the waves.  topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Our beach expert picks out the best gems, from short to long haul.(©Stuart Pearce_Getty Images)Porto Santo, PortugalMadeira's little sister has a breathtaking nine-kilometre stretch of beach, with water suitable for swimming all year thanks to the warming Gulf Stream currents. Local myth has it that the sands have healing properties, and it's not unusual to see people buried up to their necks in the hope of curing rheumatism and varicose veins. Stretching out in the sunshine and gazing at the unspoilt view is probably equally restorative, however.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Porto Santo, Portugal(©Holger Leue_LP)Porto Santo, Portugal(©Holger Leue_LP)Porto Santo, Portugal(©Holger Leue_LP)Porto Santo, Portugal(©Holger Leue_LP)Porto Santo, Portugal(©Holger Leue_LP)Porto Santo, Portugal(©Holger Leue_LP)Porto Santo, Portugal(©Holger Leue_LP)Porto Santo, Portugal(©Holger Leue_LP)Porto Santo, Portugal(©Holger Leue_LP)Porto Santo, Portugal(©Holger Leue_LP)Porto Santo, Portugal(©Holger Leue_LP)Porto Santo, Portugal(©Holger Leue_LP)Porto Santo, Portugal(©Holger Leue_LP)Porto Santo, Portugal(©Holger Leue_LP)Porto Santo, Portugal(©Holger Leue_LP)Laguna, EgyptKick back and indulge your inner hippy on Laguna, a rare stretch of Egypt's Red Sea coast that has somehow managed to avoid overdevelopment. Easy to reach from Sharm (about 30 miles away), the beach is dotted with Bedouin-owned cafes and surrounded by stunning scenery, backed by the Egyptian desert and the spectacular Sinai mountains.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Laguna, Egypt(©Anna Segeren_Rex Features)Laguna, Egypt(©Anna Segeren_Rex Features)Laguna, Egypt(©Anna Segeren_Rex Features)Laguna, Egypt(©Anna Segeren_Rex Features)Laguna, Egypt(©Anna Segeren_Rex Features)Laguna, Egypt(©Anna Segeren_Rex Features)Laguna, Egypt(©Anna Segeren_Rex Features)Laguna, Egypt(©Anna Segeren_Rex Features)Laguna, Egypt(©Anna Segeren_Rex Features)Laguna, Egypt(©Anna Segeren_Rex Features)Laguna, Egypt(©Anna Segeren_Rex Features)Laguna, Egypt(©Anna Segeren_Rex Features)Laguna, Egypt(©Anna Segeren_Rex Features)Laguna, Egypt(©Anna Segeren_Rex Features)Laguna, Egypt(©Anna Segeren_Rex Features)Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, SpainOnly got a few days to grab some winter sun? Head to Gran Canaria, which has no time change and short transfer times to resorts. Beyond the urban sprawl of Playa del Inglés lies one of the most spectacular sights in Europe; the wind-sculpted, buttery Maspalomas dunes. A protected area, the dunes are blissfully free of any development, and have separate family, nudist and gay sections.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain(©Ruth Eastham and Max Paoli_LP)Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain(©Ruth Eastham and Max Paoli_LP)Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain(©Ruth Eastham and Max Paoli_LP)Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain(©Ruth Eastham and Max Paoli_LP)Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain(©Ruth Eastham and Max Paoli_LP)Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain(©Ruth Eastham and Max Paoli_LP)Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain(©Ruth Eastham and Max Paoli_LP)Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain(©Ruth Eastham and Max Paoli_LP)Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain(©Ruth Eastham and Max Paoli_LP)Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain(©Ruth Eastham and Max Paoli_LP)Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain(©Ruth Eastham and Max Paoli_LP)Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain(©Ruth Eastham and Max Paoli_LP)Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain(©Ruth Eastham and Max Paoli_LP)Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain(©Ruth Eastham and Max Paoli_LP)Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain(©Ruth Eastham and Max Paoli_LP)Oualidia, MoroccoForget windy Essaouira and crowded Agadir and head instead to the pretty village of Oualidia, located around an 11km lagoon. All beach life is here; windsurfers and water sports fans on the Atlantic, families and sunbathers on the calm stretch of sand inside the lagoon, and couples setting forth for romantic afternoons on the small boats that sail to the opposite, quieter side of the lagoon.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Oualidia, Morocco(©Alberto Coto_Getty Images)Oualidia, Morocco(©Alberto Coto_Getty Images)Oualidia, Morocco(©Alberto Coto_Getty Images)Oualidia, Morocco(©Alberto Coto_Getty Images)Oualidia, Morocco(©Alberto Coto_Getty Images)Oualidia, Morocco(©Alberto Coto_Getty Images)Oualidia, Morocco(©Alberto Coto_Getty Images)Oualidia, Morocco(©Alberto Coto_Getty Images)Oualidia, Morocco(©Alberto Coto_Getty Images)Oualidia, Morocco(©Alberto Coto_Getty Images)Oualidia, Morocco(©Alberto Coto_Getty Images)Oualidia, Morocco(©Alberto Coto_Getty Images)Oualidia, Morocco(©Alberto Coto_Getty Images)Oualidia, Morocco(©Alberto Coto_Getty Images)Oualidia, Morocco(©Alberto Coto_Getty Images)Famara Beach, LanzaroteA surfer's dream of a beach, long rolling waves drift in across the wide expanse of sand at Famara, located in the north of the island. It's a great place to learn to surf, with schools offering tuition for absolute beginners and for those who want to improve. Equipment can be hired in nearby Famara village, which is also home to a clutch of excellent fish restaurants.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Famara Beach, Lanzarote(©Andreas Weibel_Getty Images)Famara Beach, Lanzarote(©Andreas Weibel_Getty Images)Famara Beach, Lanzarote(©Andreas Weibel_Getty Images)Famara Beach, Lanzarote(©Andreas Weibel_Getty Images)Famara Beach, Lanzarote(©Andreas Weibel_Getty Images)Famara Beach, Lanzarote(©Andreas Weibel_Getty Images)Famara Beach, Lanzarote(©Andreas Weibel_Getty Images)Famara Beach, Lanzarote(©Andreas Weibel_Getty Images)Famara Beach, Lanzarote(©Andreas Weibel_Getty Images)Famara Beach, Lanzarote(©Andreas Weibel_Getty Images)Famara Beach, Lanzarote(©Andreas Weibel_Getty Images)Famara Beach, Lanzarote(©Andreas Weibel_Getty Images)Famara Beach, Lanzarote(©Andreas Weibel_Getty Images)Famara Beach, Lanzarote(©Andreas Weibel_Getty Images)Famara Beach, Lanzarote(©Andreas Weibel_Getty Images)Plage des 5000 Ans, TunisiaThe island of Djerba is famed for having the best beaches in Tunisia, but most of them have become privately-owned and accessible to hotel guests only. The long stretch of sand at 5000 Ans remains public and has a wild, unspoilt charm that has been lost on many of the more manicured stretches of coast.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Plage des 5000 Ans, Tunisia(©Grayce Roessler_Getty Images)Plage des 5000 Ans, Tunisia(©Grayce Roessler_Getty Images)Plage des 5000 Ans, Tunisia(©Grayce Roessler_Getty Images)Plage des 5000 Ans, Tunisia(©Grayce Roessler_Getty Images)Plage des 5000 Ans, Tunisia(©Grayce Roessler_Getty Images)Plage des 5000 Ans, Tunisia(©Grayce Roessler_Getty Images)Plage des 5000 Ans, Tunisia(©Grayce Roessler_Getty Images)Plage des 5000 Ans, Tunisia(©Grayce Roessler_Getty Images)Plage des 5000 Ans, Tunisia(©Grayce Roessler_Getty Images)Plage des 5000 Ans, Tunisia(©Grayce Roessler_Getty Images)Plage des 5000 Ans, Tunisia(©Grayce Roessler_Getty Images)Plage des 5000 Ans, Tunisia(©Grayce Roessler_Getty Images)Plage des 5000 Ans, Tunisia(©Grayce Roessler_Getty Images)Plage des 5000 Ans, Tunisia(©Grayce Roessler_Getty Images)Plage des 5000 Ans, Tunisia(©Grayce Roessler_Getty Images)Meads Bay, AnguillaAsk a Caribophile where to find the best beaches, and most will say the tiny island of Anguilla, which is fringed with picture-perfect, palm-dotted stretches of sand. Meads Bay ticks all the boxes, with beachfront bars and restaurants at the eastern end of the beach, but great stretches of uncrowded sands stretching away to the west. Free of fast-food outlets, shops and hawkers, Meads Bay is a real gem.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Meads Bay, Anguilla(©Danita Delimont_Getty Images)Meads Bay, Anguilla(©Danita Delimont_Getty Images)Meads Bay, Anguilla(©Danita Delimont_Getty Images)Meads Bay, Anguilla(©Danita Delimont_Getty Images)Meads Bay, Anguilla(©Danita Delimont_Getty Images)Meads Bay, Anguilla(©Danita Delimont_Getty Images)Meads Bay, Anguilla(©Danita Delimont_Getty Images)Meads Bay, Anguilla(©Danita Delimont_Getty Images)Meads Bay, Anguilla(©Danita Delimont_Getty Images)Meads Bay, Anguilla(©Danita Delimont_Getty Images)Meads Bay, Anguilla(©Danita Delimont_Getty Images)Meads Bay, Anguilla(©Danita Delimont_Getty Images)Meads Bay, Anguilla(©Danita Delimont_Getty Images)Meads Bay, Anguilla(©Danita Delimont_Getty Images)Meads Bay, Anguilla(©Danita Delimont_Getty Images)Jumeirah Beach, DubaiIf you like your beach free of hawkers and hassle, then Jumeirah Beach is a great choice - although modesty definitely prevails with topless and nude sunbathing strictly prohibited. You don't have to be staying in one of the hotels that open out onto Jumeirah - it's a public beach and 5AED buys you access to the lifeguards, loungers and water sports facilities.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Jumeirah Beach, Dubai(©Amanda Hall_Getty Images)Jumeirah Beach, Dubai(©Amanda Hall_Getty Images)Jumeirah Beach, Dubai(©Amanda Hall_Getty Images)Jumeirah Beach, Dubai(©Amanda Hall_Getty Images)Jumeirah Beach, Dubai(©Amanda Hall_Getty Images)Jumeirah Beach, Dubai(©Amanda Hall_Getty Images)Jumeirah Beach, Dubai(©Amanda Hall_Getty Images)Jumeirah Beach, Dubai(©Amanda Hall_Getty Images)Jumeirah Beach, Dubai(©Amanda Hall_Getty Images)Jumeirah Beach, Dubai(©Amanda Hall_Getty Images)Jumeirah Beach, Dubai(©Amanda Hall_Getty Images)Jumeirah Beach, Dubai(©Amanda Hall_Getty Images)Jumeirah Beach, Dubai(©Amanda Hall_Getty Images)Jumeirah Beach, Dubai(©Amanda Hall_Getty Images)Jumeirah Beach, Dubai(©Amanda Hall_Getty Images)Wilderness, South AfricaEven among the glorious stretches of coastline along the garden route, Wilderness stands out. It has a pristine swathe of sand constantly buffed by Indian Ocean rollers, where all the (low-rise) development is kept on the other side of the road from the beach. A great spot for wildlife-lovers, at the right time of the year you can spot whales and dolphins frisking about in the water.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Wilderness, South Africa(©Ariadne Van Zandbergen_LP)Zighy Bay, OmanRidiculously dramatic, Zighy's long curve of sandy beach separates the Arabian Gulf from the towering Hajar Mountains. Located in the very north of Oman, the beach has a delicious sense of isolation - separated from the rest of the world by the vast peaks. The only place to stay is Six Senses Zighy Bay, but if your budget can stretch to it, it's the perfect escape à deux.topThis field has been disabled for Gallery V2Zighy Bay, Oman(©Six Senses)Zighy Bay, Oman(©Six Senses)Zighy Bay, Oman(©Six Senses)Zighy Bay, Oman(©Six Senses)Zighy Bay, Oman(©Six Senses)Zighy Bay, Oman(©Six Senses)Zighy Bay, Oman(©Six Senses)Zighy Bay, Oman(©Six Senses)Zighy Bay, Oman(©Six Senses)Zighy Bay, Oman(©Six Senses)Zighy Bay, Oman(©Six Senses)Zighy Bay, Oman(©Six Senses)Zighy Bay, Oman(©Six Senses)Zighy Bay, Oman(©Six Senses)Zighy Bay, Oman(©Six Senses)

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