What is a Mediterranean vacation without sun, great food, and relaxation? You’ll get all that and more with these 5 Uniquely Mediterranean Experiences:
1. Eat in Crete
The villages of Crete’s mountainous interior are far away, in lifestyle if not distance, from the resorts on the island’s northern coast. Here, the pace of life is determined by seasons and harvests, and traditions remain strong! Explore this side of Crete with Crete’s Culinary Sanctuaries, which takes small groups to stay in remote rural villages & immerse them into local life. You might harvest artichokes or fennel in the spring, while in summer you can bee keep and make wine!
2. Go On a Green Ibiza Tour
Ibiza can surprise you: although it’s best known as a clubbing capital, it also has many quiet coves and beaches where the locals go, particularly in the northeast, as well as lots of unspoilt area in the interior where you can see a variety of wildlife. During the summer solstice Green Ibiza Tours runs a guided walking tour to some of the island’s hidden gems, organized by volunteers from Casita Verde. You’ll go on natural history walks inland, visit Las Salinas nature reserve where you can see storks, herons and flamingos, and explore some of the island’s most remote coves. The base for the week is the campsite at Camping La Playa near Es Canar on the east coast, where you’ll start the day with yoga, pilates or tai chi in the shade of the forest by the sea.
3. Walk Across Corsica’s Desert des Agriates
The island’s idyllic beaches are in the north, in the unlikely setting of the Desert des Agriates – a remote, 50-square-kilometre protected area of dense scrubland east of Ile Rousse. The most easterly of these beaches, Plage de Loto, can be reached by any number of pleasure boats from the jetty at St Florent, or you can walk there from St Florent via a 40km trek along the desert’s rugged coastal. The route west from St Florent to Plage de Loto is the most popular, so if you want to go it alone start from the west – at Ostriconi – and head east. A good place to stay the night before is the nearby Pietra Monetta, a ferme-auberge (farm inn) where you can feast on homegrown Corsican food – such as roast lamb sautéed in the local herbs – on the vine-clad outdoor terrace or inside the eighteenth-century dining room.
4. Cycle Around the Island of Formentera
The only way to reach Formentera is by ferry from Ibiza. At the port of La Savina, you can pick up a Green Routes leaflet from the tourist office, which includes details of signposted cycling paths to some of the island’s hotspots. Among these are archeological remains (such as the Bronze-age ruins at Barbaria), the island’s tiny capital Sant Francesc Xavier and the large beach at Platja de Mitjorn where you can lunch by the sea.
In the early evening, cycle past the island’s wetland habitat in the north and up to Platja de ses Illetes by the Ses Salines Natural Park, where you can watch the sun set over this beautiful, untouched corner of the island.
5. Kayak Around the Maddalena Archipelago, Sardinia
Much has been written about the celebrity highlife of Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda, as well as the island’s traditional cuisine and its distinctive character and customs. Less well known is that Sardinia has some of the best-conserved coastline in the Mediterranean, thanks to government legislation that bans building property within 2km of the sea around the entire island.
One of the best ways to enjoy Sardinia’s coastline is by sea kayak, paddling under your own steam, you can reach some of the island’s most unspoilt beaches. In particular, the protected islands of the Maddalena Archipelago in the Straits of Bonifacio between Corsica and northeastern Sardinia provide excellent conditions for an island-hopping kayaking adventure. There are seven main islands (five are uninhabited) and over fifty islets around which you can paddle for days in warm, translucent water, searching for that ideal spot to land along the wind-blown granite coastline – home to gulls, cormorants and herons. The best time to go is outside of the main holiday season – either from early April to May, or better still in September and October when the sea is warmer and the water is clearest.
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Excerpted from Rough Guides: Clean Breaks (2009)