Bounded on three sides by water, peninsulas offer all the benefits of an island, but with more accessibility. Expect remote beaches, abundant wildlife and culture just a little different from the mainland
Known affectionately as ‘The Lizard’, this peninsula in Cornwall is the most southernly point on the British mainland. From rolling farmland to jagged granite cliffs, smugglers coves and isolated beaches, it offers a stunning variety of landscapes any time of the year. Ramblers will enjoy following the South West Coast Path from The Lizard to Coverack. Foodies will love the crabs and lobster, hauled fresh from the sea and served in ancient pubs, ringing to the sound of folk musicians and Cornish sing. The indulgent will head to Roskilly's farm to watch ice cream and fudge being made.
A magical land of black sand beaches, otherworldly gorges and waterfalls, and brightly-coloured clapboard villages, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula is everything people love about Iceland. Hanging off the west of the country, the main attraction is the Snæfellsjökull glacier, a dormant strato-volcano that towers over the ethereal landscape.
A Mediterranean idyll, jutting into the Tyrrhenian Sea and attached to the mainland by a sand isthmus, Monte Argentario is a jumble of colourful seaside towns, secluded beaches, cypress pines and olive groves. It is enchantingly beautiful – the Italian painter Caravaggio made sure he breathed his last here and Michaelangelo said it was the last place he wanted to see before he died. Drive the scenic coastal route between Porto Ercole and Porto Santa Stefano and you’ll understand why.
Just over an hour’s drive from Adelaide, the Yorke Peninsula is home to a staggering 700 kilometres of picture perfect coast. A popular summer holiday hangout for South Australians, the peninsula is ideal for fishing, boating, surfing, swimming, camping and bushwalking, but never feels crowded. Wildlife abounds too. Southern Right Whales can be spotted between June and October. Leafy seadragons, similar to sea horses, hide amongst the seaweed and rock pools. And don’t be surprised if you are joined on your swim by an inquisitive fur seal. These sociable creatures can be seen around the entire coastline of the peninsula.
It doesn’t get any more Irish than the Dingle Peninsula. A popular spot on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, it is regarded as a bastion of Irish language and culture, with every country lane to leading through wild hedgerows to endless skies, dramatic coastlines and cosy thatched pubs. It was here, on Ceann Sibeal, that Luke Skywalker sought refuge and solitude when the life of a Jedi got too much for him. For the more sociable, a fiddle-and-flue session on one of the seaside pubs is a recommended way to mingle with the locals and sample a properly pulled pint of Guinness.
If it’s isolated beaches, rugged mountains and incredible nature reserves you’re looking for, the Nicoya Peninsula on the north Pacific coast in Costa Rica is for you. Boasting the longest dry season in Costa Rica, and overlooked by many travellers, it offers a laidback lifestyle, some of the best beaches in the country and plenty of untouched wilderness to explore. It’s also one of the best places in the world to see turtles. Leatherback turtles nest and hatch at Playa Grande. Olive Ridley turtles arrive further south at Ostional National Wildlife Refuge.
Running from Table Mountain to Cape Point, this mountain-spined peninsula juts out into the Atlantic Ocean and marks the most south-westerly point of the African continent. It is here you’ll find Cape Hope (originally called the Cape of Storms) – an important marker on the old sailing route from Europe to India, as well as one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the world and a clutch of isolated beaches that are a popular landing point for the indescribably cute African penguins.
A three-pronged peninsula that juts into the Aegean Sea like Poseidon’s trident, Halkidiki offers something for everyone. Cassandra is your classic fly-and-flop combination of cheap hotels and Happy Hour retsina. Sithonia offers walking trails and woodlands. And Athos is famous for its mountaintop monasteries. Despite the peninsula’s popularity, its crenellated coastline and crystal waters never feel crowded.
Home to some of the best beaches on Bali, the Bukit Peninsula is a welcome break from crowded and chaotic Kuta. Surfers have long flocked to Padang Padang, known as the Balinese Pipeline, but Balangan remains a relatively unknown gem. Expect golden sands, beach huts and very few visitors.
The peninsula is also famous for Uluwatu, a dramatic cliff top temple overlooking the ocean that was built to protect the island from evil. It is one of the best places to watch the sun set in Bali, and the regular evening Kecak and fire dance is an experience you’ll never forget.
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