The sun lotion is uncorked, the towels are fluffed and you're about settle down for a session of serious sunbathing, when out of the corner of your eye, you spy something dancing in the waves. Only it's not an exotic sea creature emerging from the depths, rather a motley collection of plastic bottles and tat. Instantly, the scene is spoiled.
We prefer our beaches spic and span, preferably swimming in waters that won't turn our hair blue. And, the recent closure of Bali's Kuta beach due to rotting plankton has prompted us to ponder: where in the world are the cleanest beaches?
10 1.Spain - Blue Flag beaches: 520
Featuring over 4,000 kilometres of coastline and with most destinations a mere two or three hours away by flight, Spain has the biggest choice of clean beaches for sun-starved Brits. The only problem is figuring out where to pitch up...
9 2.Greece - Blue Flag beaches: 412
Greece's islands are so beautiful that most stressed out Athenians prefer to holiday there rather than journeying abroad.
8 3 France - Blue Flag beaches: 319
Most holidaying Brits will be attempting to cram themselves onto French beaches - particularly in the warmer, picturesque south - over the summer. An expert tip - head to the Hérault area, which has 12 Blue Flag beaches - the highest concentration in the country. One of the most glamorous additions to the collection is Cannes, which was awarded Blue Flag status last year
7 4.Turkey - Blue Flag beaches: 311
Some critics might pooh-pooh Turkey's coastal resorts (high-rise holiday apartments and fellow sunburnt Brits being a major turn-off) but those in the know will head to more secluded spots, which are often ringed by forests and mountains.
6 5.Portugal - Blue Flag beaches: 241
Portugal's biggest draw is that, outside of the tourist hotspots (Lisbon, the Algarve), most of the coastline is still fairly secluded, so there are some great finds.
5 6.Denmark - Blue Flag beaches: 216
Visiting nudists will love the plethora of nudist beaches (naturism is very popular in Denmark), and with a whopping 7,300 of coastline, there's plenty of space for clothed sunbathers to avoid them should they prefer.
4 7.Italy - Blue Flag beaches: 230
Italy is a top draw for short flights, hot weather, clean beaches and good seaside cafes. No wonder visiting oligarchs like to park their super yachts in the surrounding waters.
3 8.Croatia - Blue Flag beaches: 116
Croatia has been on the tourist radar for some time, but it still isn't as heavily visited as France or Spain. Therefore, some of its beaches retained their air of seclusion with most fringed by a very deep blue sea.
2 9 Cyprus - Blue Flag beaches: 116
Joint place with Croatia, the Cypriot coastline is home to some fantastic hotels, old ruins and fishing villages.
1 10 Ireland - Blue Flag beaches: 74
What Ireland lacks in warm weather, it makes for with clean, sandy shorelines. Jewel-green hilltops flanked by clear, turquoise water makes for a postcard view, even if the water is too freezing for a dip.