Having recently visited Benidorm I was initially surprised when I first arrived at the beach...it was lovely! I don't really know what I was expecting, maybe the usual stereotype of the Brit-laden Spanish costas; dirty, over-crowded etc etc. However, as I say, to my surprise, it was actually very nice and played a major part in the enjoyment of my holiday.
The beach stretched for miles, covered by glorious golden sands, with pretty clear blue water. The beach itself was very clean and despite hoardes of sunbeds, which cost to hire, there was also alot of free space where one was able to lay down a few towels or kick a ball about.
The beach is manned by life guards, while drinks sellers also walk up and down, however, their drinks are very expensive, so as another reviewer suggests, it is probabl best that you bring your own. Indeed, there is no shortage of bars and restaurants, as well as souvenir shops, along the promenade behind the beach, which is also very attractive (also to my surprise), as it is very clean and lined with palm trees.
The sea itself is shallow as you enter but becomes fairly deep pretty quickly and beware of the rocks early on because there are quite a few, but once these are passed you will have no problems. There is also a pontoon a few hundred metres out to sea which you can swim up to and go on. You can either relax on it or jump off continuously as many people do. There are even slides on it that you can go down and into the sea!
When I was there the waves were quite strong and some even knocked me off my feet, so if you have young children it is worth being cautious of this. The sand does also get exceptionally hot during the afternoon so beware - best bring flip flops! Salt water showers are also provided as you enter or leave the beach but are only really suited to legs and feet as they are long and low, but very refreshing nonetheless.
There are also a couple of shaded areas, such as an on-beach library that is open to the public. And for those that enjoy sports, there is no shortage of other people wanted some action. We love our football and easily orchestrated a game of beach football with some Spanish lads despite the language barrier!
Overall, a superb beach...it's not exactly paradise but it's certainly good enough and does a very good job!
I visited the resort of Son Bou, Menorca in May of this year. There were seven of us in the party; 4 adults and 3 children, aged 6, 2 and 7 months. We had booked the holiday back in November 2008 through Thomson holidays. We paid around £285 per adult and paid for just one of the kids at £149. That was for two weeks in a self- catering studio apartment.
SON BOU THE RESORT
When we landed at Mahon Airport we were transferred by mini-bus to our apartment complex, Girasol Garden Apartments, in Son Bou. The transfer took arrox 25 mins (which was a great relief as we have initially been told on booking that it was 1 1/2 hours transfer - phew).
Son Bou itself is quite built up with many beautiful apartments, villas and a couple of high rise hotels, built into the hills. For somewhere so tourist-y it is remarkably picturesque and pleasing to the eye. There is still some building works going on, although some of it looks like nothing has been done for a while.
It boasts the longest beach in Menorca, approximately 2km. The find golden sand seems to stretch for miles. The sea is clear blue and was quite warm at that time of year. There are three beach hut style restaurants/bars/eateries along the beach. It was wonderfully relaxing at one with a jug of sangria! The west side of the beach is popular with naturists - we steered well clear, but I am sure that the residents of the high rise hotels had a very interesting view to say the least. Not for those who blush easily.
Behind the beach, and running the full length on the hill above is a large development of privately owned 'villas, between these and the beach is the area known as San Jaime.
San Jaime was clearly built with family holidays in mind, with supermarkets, shops, restaurant, chemists, medical centre, car hire and money exchange places on hand. Basically everything a family would need.
Son Bou also homes a Christian Basilica, one of only three on the whole of Menorca. You would find it at the eastern end of the beach ( I am guessing that it's because it is the furthest away from the naturists on the west side, as possible!!) at the side of the two Sol hotels.
PLACES TO EAT
KIT KAT BAR - ONLY BRITISH BAR IN SON BOU
Kit Kat bar has plenty of entertainment including quiz nights, karaoke nights and course Sky Sports (The lads spent a lot of time there!) Its a great friendly atmosphere and very popular with the English; no surprise. They have air hockey and pool tables indoors and a sheltered street terrace to eat. Its great for any time of the day. Though the menu is quite limited - they don't have a full kitchen, just microwave, toaster and toasted sandwich maker from the sounds of it - the quality of the food is superb. They do great meal deals i.e. toasted sarnie and a pint for 5 euro. If you go for nothing else you must try out the Tapas menu. Though its not what I would call traditional Spanish Tapas, its tasters for sure. Try the Chilli Con Carne. Its perfect. I asked for the recipe but its a no go.
The staff are all English and really friendly, know a lot about the area and are not afraid to recommend somewhere else to eat or drink. There is a great cocktail menu too
Great for a traditional English Brekky at a great price. They use English Sausages and (they say) English Bacon (I reckon its Danish - but hey!)
THE IRISH BAR
Do great toasties, sandwiches etc. There is nothing much Irish about the place, though they do serve Magners Cider and have a lot of sport on.
Again, have a lot of sport on, serve sandwiches etc. Everything comes with chips. Its a friendly place. Worth a visit
We found two. One call MUNDO'S. Another whose name I forget (found next to the Hawaii Cocktail Bar). Anyway, we didn't try MUNDO'S, but the other one. The food was good and the price for a set meal was great (9.50 euro for three course and a pint or glass of wine (the glass of wine turned out to be a bottle, but was pretty gross). However, everything else about the place was poor, the staff, although not rude, where unfriendly and quite difficult to understand (I guess it was vice versa also). The toilets were right next to our table (behind two doors obviously) but not nice.
A lovely eatery, massive place. There is a pool table inside and little slot car machine things for the kids. They also have an African Grey Parrot inside, which got a little scared when my 2 year old nephew tried to get her attention with the pool cue!!! TIME TO LEAVE. Anyway, I digress. I like to try 'new' food on holiday and so opted for the Ostrich. Got a message back from the Chef to say 'no Ostrich', so had the suckling pig inside. It was beautifully cooked and presented well with mixed veggies and chips. My mate had a whole shoulder of lamb. Our waiter promised her a pint on the house if she managed to eat the entire meal, which she did. He kept to his promise! The staff are friendly and the prices not bad at all. I would personally recommend.
We ate here on the first night, for some strange reason everyone fancied pie and chips!! It was indeed pukka pie, served with chips but no options of mushy peas or beans which was a bit disappointing. The kids had sausage and chips. Twice we returned the sausages because they were pink and clearly undercooked. On their third attempt they are almost chargrilled! The ice cream sundae desserts were really good, but because of SAUSAGE GATE we never returned to eat!
GONDELIERS / GONDOLA
This was the Restaurant at our Hotel, but was open to everyone, with a bar and eating area downstairs and ala carte upstairs. Similar menus in both, but with upstairs being a bit posher. Things to try are Tournedo Rossini, Grilled Squid, the Goat dish and Profiteroles. All amazing, as is the Chicken Curry. Its not cheap upstairs, expect around 50 - 60 euros per couple. The ala Carte requires booking also, as they can get quite busy on a Friday and Saturday night.
Well, there is not much going on!!
Upstairs at Copacabana is a 'nightclub', if you can call it that. The place is okay really, loads of pool tables and fag machines dotted around. The barmen and women are great fun, some of them whizz about on roller-skates. They have a great cocktail menu. They have regular entertainment, mostly singing acts. We saw the Temptations tribute act twice and they were actually really good. There is a real mix of Brits, Spanish and Germans there.
HAWAII COCKTAIL BAR
Is a Sister of Copacabana. They basically serve Cocktails is extravagant ceramic jugs adorned with fruit, sparklers and oversize straws. They have comfy bamboo furniture everywhere and even seating suspended from the ceilings (I swung on one, one evening and couldn't stop myself with the momentum and ended up wiping out a table full of drinks! The staff were amused, cleaned up quickly, replaced the drinks and offered us 'free' shots. I think they wanted me to drink more and repeat.
The staff skate over and regularly take photographs which they claim they put on a social networking site.... I can't find them when I search unfortunately.
Its a great place, they readily welcome children. Whilst we were there one evening they even had a Youth event, looked like 13 -16 year old, drinking cocktails. I don't know what the regulations are there. There are football tables, air hockey, pool tables a ride on carousel and sit on's for the kids and the big kids.
Disco Disco Discotheque. Well this has to be the worst example of a Discotheque I have ever seen. We made two attempts to visit, but both times were completely put off by the lack of other Discothequers in attendance. There were none. So, both times, we quietly backed out the door and went elsewhere.
Just a quite place to have a few cocktails and play a bit of Pool in the evening.
CLUB SAN JAIME/SON BOU GARDENS/GIRASOL GARDENS
These three hotels seem to club together and share the night-time entertainment out between them. There is almost always a mini disco for the kids in the evening, a quiz or live band/singers. They also held a BBQ night, with quiz, kids face painting and loads of entertainment for 15 euro an adult and 7.50 a child, with food, drink and prizes. That was quite a good night.
The only issue everyone had with the hotel entertainment was that it was held right by the swimming pools. Really puts you on edge when there are 50 -60 young children running riot, afr to close to the edge!
GIRASOL GARDEN APARTMENTS
We had a 2 bedded studio apartment, with a pull out double bed and cot in the lounge area. There was a small kitchenette, well stocked with glasses, crockery and cooking utensils, oven, hob , microwave and fridge. It was very clean. The maid service was not regular enough for us though and we did have to ask at the Reception several times for more toilet roll - two rolls would not last 7 people a week surely!
The swimming pool at the apartment was manned by a 'Lifesaver' during its opening hours 11.00 - 6.30am and was clean. There is an adult pool and a baby pool too.
We were also able to use the 'mushroom' pool at Son Bou Gardens Apartments next door. This pool was bigger, also with and adult pool and baby pool, but with the added interest of a self operated Jacuzzi and mushroom shaped water feature. It is attached to the Gondola bar and restaurant and therefore taking your own food and drinks to this pool is strictly prohibited. Not too strictly though - it didn't put us off and there was never any come back. Having said that the prices at the bar were not bad 2.50 euro for a beer (not quite a pint as in a paper cup for sitting by the pool). The pool was a decent temperature too. It was absolutely scorchio while we were there so chucking yourself in the pool was the only way of cooling down.
The reported 5 minute walk to the beach was more like 25. There is a protected march land between Girasol Gardens and the beach so it was a long walk round. That was a bit disappointing.
LOCAL THINGS TO DO
We spent most of our time by the pool or at the beach but did venture out to Mahon. The coach departs hourly from loads of locations throughout the resort. We paid 2.25 euro each for the coach travel to Mahon and didn't pay for the baby and the 2 year old. It took about 25 -30 minutes to get to the Centre of Mahon. We visited on a Tuesday, which is market day. The market was okay, not really my thing but they do have some bargain Espadrilles (about 15 euro compared to at least 40 euro in the shops).
We went on the glass bottom boat Don Jaun for a trip around Mahon Harbour, which is the second biggest harbour in the world, next to Pearl Harbour. This was not quite what we expected, but was enjoyable nonetheless. We expected to see a really wide Harbour with hundreds of luxury yachts! The Harbour is very very long, there are some luxury yachts, but the guide naturally focuses on the history of the Harbour and the beautiful hill top villas. Richard Branson used to own a place there. Spot it if you can!!
Mahon is also home to the Gin factory, which was one reason I wanted to go. Sadly, we didn't make it to the Gin factory as the boat trip took well over an hour and we wanted to get back as the kids were weary. We could have done with going again, but tanning was clearly more important to us.
There is loads of stuff to do on the island, Water parks, visits to historical building etc, but we didn't do it, so I can review it. There was a Dancing Horses show we would have likes to have seen but found that the Thomson reps were selling for 35 euro per adult, which we found a bit steep, hence didn't go.
Most Cigarette machines sell at 3.25 euro, B&H, Lamberts, Marlboro, that sort of thing. There are a couple of vending machines about that sold 200's for around 31 - 32 euro. IF you plan to stock up cheap you would be better to go into Mahon or Alaior to the Tabacconists. There are no Tabacconists in Son Bou
I took £700 which converted to 730 euro and had 12 euro left at the end of the holiday. We ate out everyday at least breakfast and evening meal and probably 7 out of 14 lunches, and loads of drink. I could quite easily spend that in the UK if I ate out that often. The supermarkets were quite expensive and the euro - sterling exchange rate that credit crunch definitely had an influence.
Thomsons ran Kidzone to help keep the little ones entertained. Children need to be over 3 years of age. We didn't use it as we prefer to keep the children with us on holiday, plus only one of them was old enough and wouldn't have gone on her own.
A great family resort, with loads to do if you can be bothered to get on a Coach. Clean place, friendly residents, staff and holidaymakers. Excellent time. I would go again.
Caleta de Fuste is one of those man made inventions to satify the tourist trade. Mile and Miles of low level accomocdation blocks, chalets and complexes with simlar sounding names all set around fun shaped swimmimg pools. They all come complete with English/German bars catering to whichever group frequents it the most.
It is what it is, and once you accept that, it does the tourist thing really well. Just built up enough to be comfortable, just local enough to be away from home. It's great for families and children. Plenty of shops, markets, rides, cafes and restaurants to keep most people happy. The people of Fuerteventura who look after you are friendly and fun.
The horseshoe- shaped man made beach is just right to let small children paddle and swim without fear. You can spend all day there keeping the children amused, not get too sunburned, take them back for kids club at whatever complex you are staying on.
We stayed at Calleta las Villas resort about 1/2 a mile from the beach. This suited us very well as we had one small child to keep entertained. The childrens club was excellent and the evening entertainment was first class when it was on. There was not so much for adults and older children to do on the other evenings.
The excursions (Pub Crawl) arranged by the reps were very enjoyable as were the excursions arranged by Chaplins, the English bar onsite. The supermarket and shop were exactly what you would expect.
We had a great time there, but we probably wouldn't go there if we didn't have any small children with us.
The resort is also known as Arenal & S'Arenal and is situated along the south coast of Majorca/Mallorca. Its only about 10km away from the airport which is a nice easy transfer time. Arenal is the German equivalent of Magaluf or Palma, its very loud and bustling - but as said it is the German equivalent, so not many british tourists venture here really.
There is a lovely beach here which leads to C'an Pastilla & Playa de Palma resorts - the three resorts are joined by by a pedestrianised promenade with loads of shops, bars and restaurants - and there is a mini train that runs around the resorts all the time to take you back and forth for just a few euros.
Arenal is very popular with 18- 30 Germans who are looking for all night bars & nightclubs - its definately not for the quiet families or anyone actually wanting to sleep all night - as many bars & nightclubs only close at dawn.
British tourists are welcomed here also, but for those that are uncomfortable spending their holiday in a german dominated environment - then this place is definately not for you!
The beach on offer here is nice and shallow and gently slopes into the warm sea - but in recent times the beach unfortunately is covered in litter and tourists do tend to have a problem with the lucky lucky men that hang around the resort.
Also just dotted along the beach are little huts known as Balnearios - there are about 15 of them.... these sell drinks and food, and some have toilets and changing facilities which do become very useful after a day at the beach - if your wanting to catch a bus back to your resort/ hotel - head towards Belneario 2.....
Palma Aquarium is nearby and has a great collection of exotic fish - there is over 700 species off fish here and over 5 million litres of sea water to which there are recreating marine ecosystems and natural animal habitat.
Also is a mini golf course - GOLF FANTASIA. It features 54 holes of crazy golf and is without a doubt the best mini golf course on the island.
The waterpark here is called AQUALANDEL ARENAL, and is just on the outskirts of the resort - entry is quite expensive at approx 20 euros per adult and about 15 euros per child. It is very popular with many tourists from other resorts so it can get very busy during the main seasons.
And for those wanting something a little different - head east beyond Arenal and you'll come to an undeveloped part of Majorca - known as Es Trenc, it does have a nice little beach - but be aware........ its a NUDIST beach!
If I think of anything else I will be sure to update my review.
Having just returned from a week in Benidorm and refreshed my memory of this gorgeous beach it is easy to tell you about the thick, clean sand that covers the entire length of this lovely beach. It is cleaned thoroughly every day and they have a machine that drags through the sand to pull up the rubbish. You will find the occasional cigarette butt but mostly it is very clean.
The sand slopes gently into the sea and the kids are able to play in water that is deeper than a paddle but nowhere near deep enough to worry about non-swimmers. It does get deeper quite quickly however and as you walk and there are rocks that you have to manouvere. These are quite sharp and a few people cut themselves while we were there so best to wear sea shoes if you can.
There are over 5000 sunbeds and parasols for your use and we have never had a problem getting some of these, even in high season the first time we went there. They do cost however and we paid 32 Euros for 6 beds and 2 parasols. We were there for the entire day though so maybe it is not so bad.
There are plenty of watersports to be had although we only saw chain-water-skiing going on when we were there in September, although they apparently do other things like jet skiing and scuba diving.
There are long foot showers at every ramped exit from the beach so you can hose yourselves down before leaving which is great, especially as the kids seem to be covered in sand all the time.
I must mention as well though that from about 1pm the sand becomes unbearably hot to stand on without shoes of some kind. I went barefoot to the taps with my daughter and I was hopping around because I couldn't stand in one place or I would get burned. Flip Flops or similar are a must.
Overall this is a great family beach where you can spend a whole day easily with lots of food and drink shops along the promenade. There are guys coming round with cold buckets of drinks on offer but don't be tempted - we asked for 2 cans of San Miguel and they opened them for us before telling us they were 5 Euros each! Rip off. Bring your own drinks or buy from the restuarants or McDonalds which is just at the end of the beach.
We have a 2 bed luxury apartment overlooking the fantastic Campoamor Golf Course in Costa Calida Spain, ideal for golfers or families as we have fantastic blue flag beaches 10 mins drive away. We are offering a wonderful month in JULY 2009 at bargain prices. We are booked until next May but have some other great bargains for you.Please if you are interested get in touch with me.BEAT THE CREDIT CRUNCH.