Interactive Website Shows Cleanest, Dirtiest European Beaches

beaches, Cyprus
Wikimedia Commons

It’s getting to be that time of year again. People are heading to the beaches, especially around the Mediterranean.

Now choosing one has been made easier by a new interactive website by the European Environment Agency. The agency has released its 2012 figures for water quality of 23,511 “bathing waters.” The website has them broken down by country and region. While most are beaches, popular inland swimming areas such as lakes are also included.

Some countries do better than others. Cyprus may be in economic doldrums, but 100% of their beaches have clean water. Slovenia, the subject of an upcoming series here on Gadling, gets equally high praise for its narrow strip of shoreline.

Scientists examined samples of water over several months in 2012, looking for evidence of pollution. It turns out 93 percent of sites had at least the minimum standard set by the European Union. The worst countries were Belgium, with 12 percent substandard swimming areas, and The Netherlands, with 7 percent.

Sun-loving world travelers seek endless summer

Call it a refusal to grow up, an inability to tolerate winter weather, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but some travelers will do anything to prolong their summer vacation.

A recent CNN article profiles a handful of travelers and entrepreneurs who have planned their lives around seeking sun rather than snow. Appropriately enough, folks like this are sometimes referred to as “summer chasers.”

If the pursuit of sunshine appeals to you, the article offers the following tips:

Plan ahead
Couple Jared Heyman and Lauren Goldstein saved their money to fulfill a longtime goal: to travel the world for a year, visiting every continent without a set itinerary. Their one requirement: to only visit places with warm climates. Says Heyman, “To us, summer means freedom. Since we’re taking a year to travel…without work or other responsibilities, summer seemed like the most appropriate season to chase. Our strategy is to always be wherever it’s summertime, even if that means switching continents and hemispheres when necessary.”

The couple is currently in Italy, but following stops in Greece and Croatia, they will head to the Southern Hemisphere, visiting Cape Town, South Africa, Mauritius and Zanzibar. Then on to South America for the holidays, followed by Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives (hopefully they won’t decide to get married there), and the Seychelles.

Find a job that lets you live in endless summer
If you don’t have the savings to quit your job so you can travel, why not find a career that keeps you in a warm climate, or on the beach?

Michael Turner Winning of British Columbia is a private chef on a Florida yacht. The job enables him to travel and experience summer nearly full-time. He works 11 months a year in balmy climes like Maui and West Palm Beach.

Take your professional aspirations where the sun shines
Thanks to technology, working remotely is easier than ever, even from a private island or multiple countries.

Twenty-two-year-old (!) Colin Pladmonton of Washington state co-founded Spreadsong, a company that develops mobile applications. His occupation is enabling him to travel the world indefinitely, staying in hostels and affordable rented bungalows in temperate parts of Argentina, as well as Montevideo, Uruguay, and Panama.

Tahiti greens up its tourism

Tahiti ain’t cheap. And, at least in the past several decades, it’s also had a reputation for crappy food, cheesy resorts, a seriously sketchy scene in Papeete, and a general lack of sustainable tourism. But that’s all changing.

CNN reports that small-scale, eco-oriented tourism is thriving in Tahiti, especially in the mountainous interior, and on the peninsula of Tahiti Iti. An influx of B & B’s, guesthouses and bungalows have cropped up, making a visit to the island paradise more affordable to budget travelers (after you cough up the plane ticket, but Air Tahiti Nui offers promotional prices and family discounts). The less-populous inland has loads of hiking trails, waterfalls, and remote beaches accessible only by foot, and outfitters such as Tahiti Evasion offer guided hikes for non-DIY’ers. On the luxury end, some properties, like Bora Bora’s InterContinental Resort, are reducing their carbon footprint by using high-tech cooling systems that use pumped-in, deep-sea water, instead of A/C units.

Additionally, great public transit and a thriving local food scene make it easier for culturally-inclined travelers to get a true taste of Tahiti. Roulottes, small food trucks found along Papeete’s waterfront, offers local ingredients and traditional dishes, while the central market, Marche Papeete, sells all manner of locally-grown produce. On rural Moorea, check out family farms, and slip into the relaxed, local way of life.

[Via Mother Nature Network]

[Photo credit: Flickr user D.[SansPretentionAucune]]

Professional honeymooners: dream job or nightmare?

Does a half-year working honeymoon sound like your idea of a dream job? If so, you might want to contact RunawayBrideandGroom.com, an Irish travel agency catering to destination weddings and honeymoons.

But wait- there’s more! You’ll also be paid 20,000 euros (about $27,000). “The Ultimate Job” is the latest in a series of promotions designed to capture the public imagination and serve as a “brilliant” marketing tool for people and places. The idea was inspired by last year’s blockbuster “Best Job in the World” campaign in Australia.

Winners will travel the globe for six months, and get paid to test out the most romantic wedding and honeymoon destinations around the world. More than 1,000 couples have already applied for the chance to be sent to resorts in Africa, Europe, Asia and the United States. You don’t have to be Irish to apply, but you do have to tout Ireland as part of the process.

Hopefuls have until April 7 to apply for the “horrendous assignment” — as the company teasingly calls it (hee.) — which starts mid-May. B.Y.O. Viagra and UTI medicine.

The winners will be asked to blog about their experiences a few times a week, “when they can get out of the hammock after sipping a glass of champagne,” says Rosemarie Meleady, managing director of RunawayBrideandGroom.com. Assuming they stay sober long enough, they must also write for The Irish Times once a month.

While 182.5 days of globetrotting is a dream job for many (mainly real travel writers), it would still test the limits of even the most solid of couples. Here’s hoping the company also throws in a good divorce lawyer.

Free amenities and break on rates at Sandestin this spring


The list just seems to go on and on – there is no shortage of activities and amenities waiting for you at Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort. If you’re into biking, kayaking, tennis or sweating it out in the fitness center, you’ll have plenty of choices available to you. And there’s even a Wednesday concert series. Simply put: you won’t get bored at this destination on Florida‘s northwest Gulf Coast. Fleeing cold weather? The seven miles of beaches are the cure or the cold that’s been hounding you for months. Well, if you book a three-night stay by May 26, 2010, you’ll get free access to Sandestin’s many amenities – which is reason enough to plan the trip you’ve been putting off.

The resort offers accommodations from studio condos to villas and cottages of up to five bedrooms. They come with fully equipped kitchens, whirlpool spa baths, laundry facilities and views of the beach, bay or golf course – with 1,500 units in all, spanning 30 neighborhoods.