When choosing self catering holidays, one of the most important family considerations are the local beaches. The beaches of Puglia in general and the Salento in particular are many and varied. Separated by only a cliff, headland or curve they can boast differently coloured waters, rock formations, sands and visual aspects but in reality are maybe just metres from each other.
The beach that manages to really push all the buttons for one person, may do the exact opposite for the next.
Here below we have prepared a small selection to tempt you with some of the more renowned and popular ones.
For every beach listed below, there are hundreds more just waiting for you to discover. Go on – go out and explore.
A nature reserve and strictly protected by law, with a total ban on development, boats, fishing or pets … this is a beach as nature intended.
The surrounding marshlands teem with wildlife. The visitor centre in nearby Serranova (3 kms inland) sells organised nature walks for those interested – as well as organised snorkelling excursions and bicycle hire.
North of Brindisi and close to the Superstrada, Torre Guaceto is well signposted.
The visitor centre runs a mini-shuttle service from the car parks to the seashore. But with a near total absence of bars, cafes & restaurants (except one small snack-bar) you must bring all your own food, drinks and essentials with you.
Unspoilt beaches and un-fished waters offer a unique chance to see the natural ecology of this coastline. Please ensure to bring all litter home with you.
Campo di Mare
This beach, located just on the northern edge of the village of Torre San Genaro, is a series of five small man-made bays (with more planned).
All of the inlets are horseshoe shaped and adjacent to each other. Water exchange is through small gaps left in the protecting rock breakwaters.With a mix of free and commercial stretches,very shallow and calm – even on turbulent windy days Campo di Mare’s artificial beaches are superb for young children, with safe paddling, shallow water and fine sand to play in. There are numerous cafes, restaurants, beach & snack bars and other amenities thus giving a day out for all the family.
Fine sandy stretches, and shallow water beside this seaside holiday village make it a super location – especially as it just a few hundred metres from any of Placeinpuglias Villas.
Well serviced with good restaurants, cafes, shops and bars, it has a long beach side promenade, a weekly market in season and two Piazzas offering music and dancing in the evenings. Just close enough to be convenient yet just distant enough to be secluded, Villa Nicola, Villa Sun Beach and Villa Suzannah are ideally located to this attractive seafront..
This beach area located between the villages of Lendinuso and Casalabate is only 400 metres from Villa Sun Beach. Uncommercialised, this natural coastline alternates little sandy bays with low outcrops of rocky strata jutting out into the surf. The Mosquito bar is a small beach bar offering coffees, light snacks and cold drinks in a tasteful setting that blends harmoniously into it’s surroundings.
East of Lecce and popular with residents of that city, the long golden strand of Torre Chianca beach is one of the Salento’s longest beaches.
Freshwater springs rising from underground aquifers just inland, create large, constantly flowing lagoons teeming with bird life in the migratory season.
Cold freshwater channels bypass the dunes and traverse the beach before merging into the warm salty waters of the Adriatic. Intrepid bathers can try the lagoons, but the shallow sandy waters extending out far from the beach, provide a more family friendly and popular bathing location.
Relatively uncommercialised, there are still four Lidos that offer parasols and loungers, ice-creams and beverages during the summer season.
The litoranea here features verdant Mediterranean pinewoods running almost to the sand in places. Comprising a low coastline interspersed with rocky outcrops forming headlands and stony terrace-like slabs, that create a chain of inlets and coves with a succession of small, white sandy beaches.
The town of San Cataldo itself has a pleasant seaside promenade, tastefully lit at night and boasts a wealth of small restaurants, cafes and ice-cream gelateria. The old Roman harbour of Porto Adriano offers an amazing experience to snorkelers as the towns half submerged ruins run into the sea, and stone blockwork disappears under the waves many metres from shore. The ancient mooring bollards for the galleys can also be seen.
Just south of San Cataldo is a rocky harbor with a fine marina that provides mooring and shelter for fisher and yachtsmen alike. There is a small beach either side of the harbor, both of them are unusual in having pale grey sand rather than the customary white or pale yellow. The “Turkish Tower” built by Charles V as a defense against marauding Turks and muslim pirates still broods over rock bathers on the seafront.
Close by San Cataldo, has shallow, crystal-clear, translucent blue waters popular with rock bathers and divers.
The sheets of gnarled eroded rock are dotted with holes showing waves and water moving far below in the sun-spangled cave systems below your feet. Near the pedestal mounted statue, a huge blow-hole has collapsed creating a 50 metre diameter natural swimming pool inland of the sea. The sea flows in and out through underwater fissures, and steps have been carved into the rock wall to allow access to bathers. Near the start of these steps and hidden behind fallen boulders is a short man made tunnel, carved through the rock that exits in “Indiana Jones” style onto a narrow ledge above the wave washed cliff below.
Enjoy it but take care !
This beach just north of Otranto and near the town of Sant’Andrea, is a soft sandy strand sheltered between the rocky arms of a little bay.
Shallow and sheltered even if buffeted by inshore winds it is calm and tranquil.
It can get crowded by Italian holiday-makers in August though.
The beach of Alimini is located north of Otranto. Screened from inland by pine woods, the long strand separates the inland saltwater lagoons of the Alimini nature reserve, from the waters of the Adriatic. This fine sandy beach of seven kms length boasts beautiful, vivid greenish/blue waters. The wide stretch of sand unlike many Salento beaches, is unobstructed because of the absence of rocky headlands thus making it very popular with board, wind and kite surfers due to the cresting waves created by its strong onshore Tramontana winds.
On the Adriatic is a beautiful little beach nestled between the steep rocky arms of a natural fjord. The sandy shore gently slopes out under the turquoise waves, until in deeper and bluer water the inlet reaches the Adriatic..
A small bar and a decent restaurant cater for holidaymakers, enjoying the aquamarine shallows or rock diving into the dark blue depths closer to the open sea. Situated south of Otranto, Porto Badisco is reputed, after his escape from the sack of Troy, to have been visited by the Trojan hero Aeneas, on his perilous voyages prior to his founding of Rome.
Characterised by shallow waters, Pescoluse beach is found north of Santa Maria di Leuca on the Ionian Sea, western coast of the Salento.
Nicknamed the Maldives of the Salento due to its semi submerged offshore sand banks resembling small islands at sunset, this eight km stretch of powdery white sand is screened inland by high dunes running parallel to the coast and covered with wild lilies and ferns. It is largely commercial with many beach bars and Lidos offering sun-loungers and parasol shades for hire. Very family friendly when the Tramontana winds blow from the land, care should be taken when the Sirocco creates strong currents and eddies.
The island of the old town, connected by a causeway to the mainland, shelters under its walls the beach of Gallipoli. Conveniently situated right by the towns amenities, this beach is very popular with young people, both Italians and tourists. It boasts many parties and events throughout the summer months, with music and dancing at night. With other beaches dotted in the vicinity close by, it can draw in large numbers of party goers.
It might be too popular and crowded with teens and young adults to be totally suitable for families with younger children, who may well prefer a quieter location for the summer seaside.
This coast comprises seventeen kms of fine beaches and an island archipelago and with its high ecological value it is one of 20 protected Marine Reserves in Italy. The beaches themselves are beside extensive nature reserves and are hugely popular in the summer and almost totally commercialised, with multicoloured Lidos extending left and right along the entire stretch. Tourism and nature walk a tightrope together in a finely adjusted balancing act.
If visiting Porto Cesareo don’t miss the opportunity to explore Torre Lapillo one of the biggest, most well preserved 16th century watchtowers in the South of Italy.
By being open to the public, it allows a rare opportunity to experience a medieval military watchtower from the inside.
Lido Degli Angeli
Here in the province of Taranto and south of the city of that name, spreads an area of flat marshlands with hot water springs in its hinterland that struggle to flow through the dunes to the Ionian sea.
These huge dunes some up to six metres in height, shield the white sands of the beach from offshore winds and make a stunning backdrop to the Caribbean coloured waters of the bay. Getting more commercialised and popular there are numerous private Lidos charging for facilities along the long stretch of the beach which is broken here and there with slight rocky outcrops, which “subdivide” the expanse into shorter sections.
The shallow beach drops off rapidly into much deeper water quite close to the shore, so be careful with young children.
This of the most beautiful places in Puglia to watch as the golden globe of the sun slips into the distant waves creating amazing multi-coloured sunsets.