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.

Nudists Cause Controversy On Welsh Beach

nudistsCefn Sidan beach in Pembrey, Wales, is the latest flashpoint in an ongoing controversy over nudists in the UK.

The local government says it has received numerous complaints about bathers baring all at the eight-mile-long beach. The spot is a favorite for families and attracts more than a million visitors a year, most of who wear bathing suits. There have been complaints about nudists “approaching” non-nudists, and also reports of inappropriate behavior.

The local government has put up signs forbidding nudity and threatens to prosecute violators. However, nudist organizations have pointed out that being naked in public is not illegal in the UK and that the local council’s ruling is thus illegal.

Nudism is a legal gray area in the UK. While simply getting naked isn’t a criminal offense, nudists have been prosecuted for using their nudity “to harass, alarm or distress others.” This rule is vague enough to be applied to a wide range of cases and of course depends on the sensitivity of the person making the complaint.

Nudism seems to cause controversy every year in the UK. One nudist hiker in Scotland has been jailed repeatedly, with his latest sentence being for 21 months. A nudist B&B in Staffordshire, England, has caused many neighbors to complain.

What do you think of nudism in public places? Should it be allowed? Would you go to a nude beach? Tell us what you think in the comments section!

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons. This photo actually shows Haulover Beach, an official nudist beach in Florida.

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.

Top 10 best beaches in the Caribbean

I grew up in a little fishing village, as did my husband — and so now that we both live in the city, about every 12 months or so, we both crave the ocean. It’s like a sickness, really: unless we get an opportunity to breathe in some salty air, we start to get all crabby and out of sorts.

Or maybe that’s just my excuse for wanting to get away to a beach vacation.

In any event, my yearning for the ocean hasn’t eased any by this recent post on AquaTerraSky, listing their favourite top 10 beaches in the Caribbean. Perusing the list, I’m surprised that there aren’t very many I’ve been to — although admittedly, I was pleased to see that Englishman’s Bay, from my home country of Trinidad and Tobago, made it to number 7.

Looks like it’s time to start planning that Caribbean vacation. And now’s a good time, too: after Easter, most of the hotel and resort rates in the Caribbean drop for low season.