It is February as I am writing this post and I'm in Montreal, Canada. It is winter here, I mean REALLY winter! Not that there is anything wrong with that because I love snow and all the activities that come with it; snowboarding, snowshoeing, ice skating, you name it! But National Margarita Day (February 22nd) got me thinking about summer, rolling into your favourite hiking spot windows down, diving into a lake after a sweaty day and sipping a cold cocktail on the beach!
This paradise-like spot is located in the south of France just east of Marseille and before a cute little town called Cassis. This is truly a hidden gem, only accessible by foot on a 1 to 2 hr hike, depending where you start, or by sea kayak. You are probably wondering what a calanque is, exactly my first question when I came across this place. A calanque is a narrow steep walled inlet in the rock massifs along the Mediterranean Sea created by erosion. In these calanques, the turquoise water is calm; the enormous rock faces surrounding you create a protection from the wind while offering some interesting cliff diving spots.
If you ever end up in the south of France, you have to make a spot at the Parc National Des Calanques.
I found this beach when I was camping along the coast of Oregon. We were going for day hikes most days and one day we stumbled across this spot, just north of Brookings, close to the border of California. It is literally a scenery out of a fairy tale with its numerous sea stacks that are, for the most part, coiffed with a few trees. You can’t help but wonder how it is even possible to find vegetation on top of a small stack, in the middle of the water. Although I was there during the summer, the temperature was quite cold and misty, it wasn’t swimming weather so I just sat there, for probably an hour, taking it all in. One of those moments that I will remember for a long time.
This place is more of a hidden swimming hole than a beach, but it had to be on my list. Located just outside Chefchaouen in the Rif Mountains, you will need to drive or take a cab to the trail head and then hike for about 2 to 3hrs to get to the fall. It is a beautiful hike through the Rif mountains, I had no idea that Morocco was so lush! Along the way, you will hit 1 or 2 tea houses that are really just little camps where you can get a few snacks, tea and even a traditional tajine cooked over an open fire. After a sweaty hike, you finally get to the sublime Cascades d'Akchour, a warm, emerald coloured oasis at the bottom of a gigantic fall surrounded by rock faces and caves. A perfect spot for a bit of swimming and sun bathing before hitting the trail back home.