It’s been a pretty miserable January so far; the rain is horizontal, the wind is howling, and some parts of the country have even found themselves buried under a blanket of sleet, ice, and snow.
So, naturally, our minds have turned to the summer holidays – and, in particular, which of the world’s most picturesque beaches we plan on sunning ourselves on.
In a bid to make our decision just that little bit simpler, travel magazine Passport has revealed its ranking of the world’s top 25 beaches; naturally, the white sands of Brazil, Australia, Hawaii, and New Zealand have all earned themselves a spot on the list.
But a tiny bay in Wales has made headlines after overtaking some of the world’s most iconic stretches of coast to be named one of the very best.
The little-known beauty Barafundle Bay, in Pembrokeshire, Wales, has made it to the 17th spot on the list, beating the likes of Israel’s Tel Aviv, Brazil’s Ipanema, and the USA’s famous Herring Cove in the process.
When asked why they put Barafundle Bay on the list, the judges had the perfect answer.
“[This beach] is a revelation,” they said. “It's a luxuriant curve of sand, topped by dunes and grasses on hills that make it feel immensely private...
“Your company here? Twelve people, four dogs, and a visual overdose of beauty.”
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And Barafundle wasn’t the only British beach to be counted among the world’s best; Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire was another unexpected inclusion in Passport’s ranking.
Describing the rugged and romantic strip of sea-line, judges said: “Walking on the beach here is like stepping into the history and prehistory books, or, more appropriately, the ancient legends combined with some modern-day pirate stories from this isolated smuggler’s cove.”
The very best beach in the world was said to be L'Espiguette Beach in Aigues-Mortes – again, not a million miles away; it’s only a short hop across the channel to France, after all.
And it seems as if we really ought to eschew long-haul flights all together, as there were plenty other European treasures, too; Es Cavallet Beach in Spain's Ibiza came 11th, and Elia Beach in Mykonos, Greece took 15th place.
Meanwhile Italy's Il Buco came in at 21st place, and Dune Beach took 24th.
Here is Passport Magazine’s full list:
1. L’Espiguette Beach, Aigues-Mortes, France
2. Karekare Beach, Auckland, New Zealand
3. Bocas Del Toro, Panama
4. Matira Beach, Bora Bora, French Polynesia
5. Buzios, Brazil
6. Cape Town, South Africa
7. Varadero Beach, Cuba
8. Knip Beach, Curacao
9. China Beach, Danang, Vietnam
10. Glass Beach, California, US
11. Es Cavallet Beach, Ibiza, Spain
12. Hanalei Bay Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
13. Bells Beach, Melbourne, Australia
14. Temaw Beach, Moorea, Tahiti
15. Elia Beach, Mykonos, Greece
16. Kaneohe Bay Sandbar, Oahu, Hawaii
17. Barafundle Bay, Wales
18. Herring Cove, Massachusetts, US
19. Punta Del Este, Uruguay
20. Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
21. Il Buco, Ostia, Italy
22. Silver Strand State beach, California, US
23. Tel Aviv, Israel
24. Dune Beach, Torre Del Lago, Italy
25. Robin Hood’s Bay, Yorkshire
It’s an eclectic selection – and we’re tempted by more than a few on the list.
But, if we’re being completely honest, we’ve long been tempted by a trip to Wales, ever since Lonely Planet named it one of the top 10 must-visit regions in the world.
They particularly recommended heading to the north of the region, dubbing it a fantastic area for walking, climbing and cycling thanks to the incredible mountains of Snowdonia.
North Wales is also a hugely popular spot for surfers, has plenty of history in its World Heritage Site castles and is making a name for itself on the foodie scene too, with Anglesey eatery Sosban & The Old Butchers recently bagging Wales’ seventh Michelin star.
Or, to explain Wales’ endless appeal in just one word: lush.