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Take us to the beach....

The spirit of our Sweet Midsummer can be found throwing a towel and suncream in the boot of the car and heading straight to the beach. For inspiration, we're thinking of some of the world's best kept secret beaches and planning how to get there as soon as we can...

1. Thousand Steps Beach, California. The substantial hike to get to this Orange County beach means it's much less crowded than popular nearby Laguna Bay. Descend the endless wooden steps to find a cove with many hidden delights, including a small cave with two man-made swimming pools overlooking the Pacific Ocean. 

2. Luskentyre, Scotland. The Isle of Harris may not often get the weather to match it, but the miles and miles of white sand found here are paradisal. With less than 2000 residents on the island, you won't need to fight for space for your beach towel. 

3. Perivoli, Greece. On the Aegean island of Skopelos, this beach is largely untroubled by tourists because of its challenging location. Only reachable by a steep path, even locals in the know don't visit in large numbers. There's a taverna, a few sun loungers and blue skies for days. 

4. Tregardock, Cornwall. Northern Corwall may be a popular tourist area, but leave the crowds in the usual haunts and you'll find stretches of sand like Tregardock, unspoiled by hoards of sand seekers with less stamina. Warning - there are no facilities and no nearby parking, but don't let that put you off making the journey. 

5. Cala Pregonda, Spain. On Menorca's quiet northern coastline, this beach boasts red-gold sands and crystal clear water that is protected by tiny nearby islands. Take a siesta without being disturbed...

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