By Adria Carey Perez
Why visit a fishing village? A combination of history, character, and amazing seafood. Here are my Top Five Fishing Villages to Visit:
- Rock, Cornwall, UK
I don’t know how many of you are watching Poldark (and if you’re not, you should be), but the show has put Cornwall on the European tourist map. I was lucky to find it before its newest fame, but I venture to say that if the English couldn’t change Cornwall all that much, then Poldark can’t. Rock is a small fishing village on the north coast of Cornwall. Walking its long and sandy beach to the ferry to Padstow is the highlight. Take the boat across the estuary to Padstow, sit at a chip shop and watch the crabbers, and be sure to hit the artsy shops in town.
The next day, get the train to St. Ives from St. Erth (the train ride is worth it for the view), hike the coastal path, or get yourself over to Tintagel, where you will find one of the most beautiful vistas in the world. Another perk of many fishing villages is the surf, and Cornwall has some of the best surf spots I’ve seen.
- Porto Cristo, Mallorca, Spain
You could easily while away your time in Mallorca in Palma or Valdemossa and feel as if you missed nothing, but a detour to the East Coast of the island is a must. Rent a villa, stay at an all-inclusive, or a run-of-the-mill hotel, but spend some time in Porto Cristo. It is a beautiful little Spanish fishing village, of course, but there are some quirky aspects to it, as well.
In the village are the Caves of Drach (sounds dramatic, no?). Deep caves with stalagmites and one of the largest underground lakes in the world are the main draws, but the curated experience is worth the price of admission. There is an art-house-like film about Jules Verne (Journey to the Center of the Earth and all that) and a concert in which I got to be the main attraction by sitting in a small boat going in circles in an underground lake with a light show. A local weekly market at the waterfront cements the charm of this village, though, and the glass-bottom boat coast hopper (with a slide off the back!) is a can’t miss.
- Santa Marta, Colombia
There are so few tourists in Santa Marta that it is easy to feel like you belong there as a local. But the food scene is so amazing that it is only a matter of time before the rest of the world knows about it (as evidenced by the first wave of backpackers I saw). My favorite meal was at the rooftop restaurant Hemingway, overlooking el Parque de Los Novios, just a few blocks from the waterfront. I have never eaten so much stunningly fresh octopus in my life. Santa Marta’s location is also amazing as a jumping off point for trips into Minca (a bohemian coffee village in the mountains) and Parque Tayrona.
- Tra-lee, Ireland
I have never felt more at home in a foreign land than I have in Tralee. On the Dingle Peninsula, which is worth renting a car and spending a day driving the Wild Atlantic Way just to look out the window, it is a village with a big, Irish personality. On my first night in town I made a run to the grocery store. I got hopelessly lost on the way, was waved down by a man who wanted to give me directions because he saw me driving in circles, and was then invited by the cashier to the Rose of Tralee Festival. I also ate the best fish and chips of my life at Quinlans Seafood Bar. Consider renting a place with Imagine Ireland. We found an amazing cottage for seven people with them.
- Mykonos, Greece
“Mykonos…really?” you might say. Yes, this land of tourists and nightlife and cruise ships has an authentic soul that has not been corrupted by all the shiny things. Besides being breathtakingly beautiful, there are simple pleasures everywhere. Sitting at a restaurant on the harbor, eating a fish caught on the boat docked right in front of me, with a cat sitting at my feet begging for the fish head, is an experience I have not had anywhere else. The cobblestone streets with cascading fuchsia Bougainvillea and old ladies in black in chairs in front of small churches are not “authentic touches,” but the vestiges of a long and strong cultural history. There are towns that are tourist traps all over the globe, but Mykonos is a real and radiant place that just happens to have some tourists.
There are few more places that I would put on this list, but I don’t think I could stop adding if I didn’t put a cap. I also love: Sagres, Portugal (Martinhal Resort and Henry the Navigator); Sete, France (mussels!); Greenport, New York (last vestige of the old Hamptons); and Islamorada, Florida (I’m a Florida girl first and foremost). I have a hazy plan forming of fishing village hopping on the Maine coast this summer. I’ve never visited the US West Coast, so I would love to hear recommendations! What other fishing villages should be on this list?
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