The best beaches in Puglia: Wild Ride or Smooth Chill?

How do you like it? Wild, Excitable and Rocky or Smooth, Gentle and Calm: It’s all about the best beaches in Puglia!

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Torre Pozzella

Now, when it comes to beaches, I am particular but inclusive. I like it smooth and calm like a bath balm, or wild and rocky to bring out the untamed and more adventurous side.

Puglia tends to divide into these two distinct types. The Ionian sea, which is calm and smooth, then the Adriatic, which is definitely rockier and wilder.

Here is the only lowdown you need on Puglia’s beaches; north, south, east and west.

Adriatic

Most people come to the Valle D’Itria, although South Salento is gaining popularity. Ostuni, Lecce and Otranto are the places to go if you have the inside scoop on where to go.

Generally, the Adriatic coastline is defined by its rocky coves.  It still has sandy beaches but they are smaller, which create natural and intimate pockets of paradise; some of the best beaches in Puglia. Plus you have a ready-made gem for kids who will delight rock-pooling and divide their play between sand, rocks and water.

If you dare try hanging out like a local for a day with no beach equipment other than a sun lounger and towel perched on a rocky outcrop. I fail miserably at any success with this. Cue me as a boiled lobster in 30 seconds flat with zero grace at getting on and off aforementioned rocks.

Pilone:

Easy to find and get to. Pilone II is a sweet and charming free beach, with the added plus of the many beach clubs along the drag. For one of the best beach clubs, check out Lido Bosco Verde; fantastic restaurant and gorgeous surroundings. Just 50 metres along the same stretch you will find LullaBay, a boho Ibiza style party spot with djs for the youthfully minded. Wonderfully, ageism doesn’t exist at Puglia’s beaches.

Villa Volta is a sweet luxury villa just a stones-throw away from these beach clubs.

Torre Pozzelle:

Wild, rocky cliffs hug small sandy coves under the old watchtower at Torre Pozzelle. Even the arrival is an adventure in itself. The tarmac road ends abruptly and the rest of the road is a sandy-one-car-width-featuring-pot-holes-big-enough-to-sink-an-armoured-vehicle-in. Hence, most people stop at the first car park opposite the campsite and beach bar and consider their adventuring work done for the day.

If you have nerves of steel the rewards for continuing your journey as far as you can go (there is another car park) are worth it. You need to be prepared and self-sufficient here. An umbrella or sun tent are a must as there is nothing to hire. I would also advise rock shoes for getting in and out of the water over hidden rocks without stubbed toes – and some refreshments to save hiking back to the beach bar every time you want a drink.

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Pilone

Pantanagianni:

A perfect wild beach for the civilised near Carovigno. A long sandy stretch greets you with are a couple of welcoming beach bars thrown in for good measure. This is a gem of a beach especially as the waters are shallow and warm; perfect for small kids.

Check out Villa Torre for a wonderful family stay complete with table tennis and jacuzzi not far from Pantanagianni and Torre Guaceto.

Torre Guaceto:

A nature reserve and paradise to boot. Pale, fine sand divides the translucent sparkling turquoise sea and marshy wetlands teeming with birds and wildlife.

As it is a natural reserve, the car park is fairly close to the main road and a good 1km from the beach. A little electric train takes you down to the beach where adventuring comrades and yourself all spill out onto the beach at the same time. It is really worth taking the effort to walk away from the ‘main’ area you are dropped off at and find your own private patch.

Torre Guaceto is also proud to offer a variety of water sports including surf, wind surfing and kite surfing. We will happily make your booking; just let us know you would like us to do so!

Ionian

As we are talking about the best beaches of Puglia, we couldn’t do this article justice without talking a little about the Ionian coast.

Stretches are likened to the ‘Maldives of Puglia’. And although that can be a little far from the truth, there is no denying that the white sands, limpid water and warm sea greets you along this stretch.  Who am I to complain at beauteous natural beaches and sea.

And please, lets not get too carried away either. There are also areas of rock and stubbed toes if you are too laissez fare in your sea entrance and exit.

Campomarino

A small 1970s hey-day beach town, Campomarino is one of my personal absolute hands-down favourite. This small holiday town full of rainbow inflatables cuffed and flapping around in shop doorways with residential apartments looking out along the coastline.

The beach itself is stretches out to either direction as far as the eye can see. The water is so warm it is an unmissable experience and fabulous for children.

Just to cap it all off, it is a quick wander back into town for a large plate of ‘frittura mista’ (battered and fried mix of small fish and seafood) or ‘cozze ripiene’ .

Town properties with pool and near the coast are like gold dust in Puglia, and Villa Marma is a gem as it really has it all!

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Porto Cesareo

San Pietro in Bevagna – Santa Maria al Bagno

This stretch of coast runs for 40km give or take a few kilmetres between friends! It is a road trip made in heaven. Sandy stretches give way to rocky outcrops, so bathing areas with sand need to be sought out. The rewards are oh so worth it for dazzling seas and breathtaking scenery.

The best beaches in Puglia are crammed into this area. A couple of my absolute favourite areas include Porto Cesareo. The town has a wide seafront promenade with sea taxis to venture out to the off-shore sand bank, or if you prefer doing something with more activity there is a fantastic kite surfing school and club! The entire coastal drive is full of swoons and oooooohs and aaaaahs; each corner bringing something more spectacular than the last. A special mention also goes out to the natural reserve of Porto Selvaggio, a perfect and adventurous spot for gutsy swimming and snorkeling adventures.

Gallipoli – Torre Vado

Next stop is a jump all the way south to Torre Vado. Why you ask? Read on, and I will explain.  Baia Verde, the bay south of Gallipoli is beautiful! White sands, clear water and all the beach bars you can ask for. It is also Europe’s largest outdoor nightclub area (a fun fact for all you party animals!). So, if a packed and busy beach to be seen is your thing where you stay and party through the night, then this is definitely the place for you. And a great tip when travelling with your ‘grown-up’ children who are looking for a place to groove a night or two away. A few kilometres inland from Gallipoli is the pretty town of Alezio, and Villa Luna. This historical property is an elegant and grown-up place to stay; yet close enough to Baia Verde and the coastline for neach lovers.

Pescoluse has a similar story, and whilst there is absolute beauty to the beaches, and the beach clubs are heavenly, there are just too many people for my liking. The beach clubs never cease to delight me; from young hip places with house music to ambient SPA and ambient chill lounges! Whatever your desire is, your ‘place’ is there.

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Porto Selvaggio
Torre Vado

And finally Torre Vado. A small town beach, like most in the area. Torre Vado has a lovely local and community feel which brings together the best of (my) two worlds; inviting and spectacular sand and sea, plus the chance to throw on something over the beachwear and with sandy toes amble into the town for fresh home-made gelato……..yum! Check out La Serena for an unforgettable beach holiday base.

The best beaches in Puglia are never-ending. There is definitely your beach just waiting for your arrival here. Meanwhile I feel another beach trip coming on as I research more tips on beaches in Puglia from Lecce on the Adriatic down to the tip at Santa Maria di Leuca where the seas meet, and up the Ionian again to meet you at Torre Vado! : ) See you there! I will be the lobster on the rock.