Top city beach getaways

COLLEEN SIMPSON
Last updated 05:00 10/06/2013
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BONDI BEACH: Sydneysiders can take their pick of the city's picture postcard beaches.

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A few hours on a beach can go a long way towards repairing the damage done by a night on the tiles or a long day of sight-seeing. Here are a few suggestions of places to go when you want a bit of surf with your city.

Sydney, Australia

Where to start? Sydneysiders can take their pick of the city's picture postcard beaches, they're lucky to have both the iconic and the idyllic on their doorstep.

Bondi is the most famous of Sydney's beaches and the one kilometre stretch is considered to be the best place to go for the archetypal Aussie beach experience, whether you want to just soak up the sun, swim in the surf or learn how to handle a long board.

Sydney has plenty of places to go if you're after somewhere you can spread yourself out a bit more. Manly's Shelly Bay is one of the city's best kept beach secrets.

This small, sheltered cove offers more than just sun, sand and surf, it is also a destination for rock climbers, kayakers and snorkelers. Nature lovers should keep an eye out for penguins from the nearby colony too.

Honolulu, Hawaii

The calm, clear waters and white sands of Waikiki Beach on Oahu's south shore are a favourite with celebrities and unfortunately just about everyone else - millions of tourists flock there every year.

The beach's warm waters are known to tempt even the most reluctant of swimmers and the year round clement weather means it is always a good time to visit. In fact, if you want to catch some of the monster waves Hawaii is famous for, winter is the perfect time to go.

Waikiki might feature on the most postcards but it is by no means the only beach near to the Hawaiian capital worthy of a place on your itinerary.

A short drive to the other side of the spectacular Diamond Head will take you to Hanauma Bay which visitors are encouraged to treat as a 'living museum'. Snorkelling is the activity of choice here; the shallow, calm waters are home to a vast number of fish which can be observed from just a few metres from the shoreline. 

As well as trumpet fish, angel fish and yellow tangs, snorkelers can expect to be encounter green sea turtles amongst the coral reef.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

A trip to Dubai wouldn't be complete without a stint on the shore though it pays to know where you are going before getting there as access to many of the beaches on the Jumeirah strip is for hotel guests only or for members of beach clubs, though hefty one-off fees can be paid if there's spare space on the sand.

If you're not staying on the strip then do what the locals do and head for the Jumeirah Beach Park, a favourite weekend hangout for Dubai residents.

There is an entrance fee of a few dirhams that gets you access to the 12 hectare park as well as the play, picnic and barbecue areas as well as the food kiosks, jetty and lifeguard patrolled waterfront itself.

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Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona's coastline has some serious competition for visitor's time, but those who can pull themselves away from the Barcelona's cultural marvels will be rewarded with more than 4kms of golden Mediterranean coastline.

The broad beaches within easy reach of the city centre attract nearly 7 million people each year so are a great place for people watching.

Locals and tourists both favour Barceloneta  and Sant Sebastià beaches for soaking up the rays, plunging into the surf or simply eating seafood and tapas and enjoying a cool drink on a hot day.

Nova Icària is the family favourite, being quieter and more suited to larger groups.

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Whatever your shape or size, leave the one-piece at home - bikinis are the only way to go when visiting any of Rio's many beaches. Copacabana and Ipanema are without doubt the city's most famous beaches and they hold a special place in the hearts of Rio's residents.

The crescent-shaped Copacabana is almost 4kms long and is hemmed in at one end by the famous Pão de Açucar, a mountain which lies just off the coast, and at the other end by the old Copacabana Fort.

Though some think extensive development along the waterfront has taken the shine of Copacabana, it's still one of the world's most famous stretches of sand.

Situated at the end of Ipanema lies Arpoador which is frequented by surfers (windsurfers should try Barra where conditions are usually good) and those wanting to appreciate the fabulous ocean view while dining outdoors.

- Stuff

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