With over 372,000 miles of coastline on the planet, Earth is home to some pretty spectacular oceanside retreats. From rocky windswept shores to tropical powdery sand, the beaches of the world are as spectacular as they are varied. And while you probably have your own favorites, here are our picks for 25 of the best beaches around the world.
Eagle Beach - Aruba
Eagle Beach is exactly what you picture when you think of the Caribbean. Complete with white sands, cerulean waters, and Aruba's famous divi divi trees, it looks like it was plucked from a travel brochure. This highly-rated beach is so large it rarely feels crowded, giving you plenty of space to spread out. The shoreline is also the prime spot for Aruba's nesting turtles, who make their way to the ocean from May to November.
La Concha Beach - Spain
The crescent-shaped La Concha Beach separates the sea from the Spanish city of San Sebastian. Its urban border makes it easy to transition between the city and the natural beauty of the bay. Consistently ranked one of Europe's best stretches of sand, this wide beach offers the best of all worlds, from well-maintained sand to a picturesque promenade, and spectacular views of mountains surrounding the wide-mouth bay.
Seven Mile Beach - Grand Cayman
There are a few beaches named "Seven Mile Beach" in the world, but Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman tops the list. Set on the western end of Grand Cayman, this long stretch of powdery white sand is the place to go if you want to get a little adventurous in paradise. Try parasailing in the bright water, or watch the sunset on a dinner cruise. If you tire of the ocean, you can make the easy switch to the pool at a nearby resort for a slight change of scenery.
Bondi Beach - Australia
Though Bondi can get a bit crowded, you can’t pass up this iconic beach if you're staying in Sydney. The surfing is fantastic and making friends on the beach is a breeze. If you head to the southern end of Bondi, you can sip a cold beer and enjoy fantastic views from Bondi Icebergs Club. Take in all the scenery on the Bondi to Coogee Walk, a 3.5-mile oceanfront trail where you will find great beaches, cliffs and cafes to refresh you as you sit and enjoy the breathtaking vistas.
Carmel Beach - California
For a domestic beach vacation that provides unparalleled beauty paired with sophistication and culture, Carmel Beach has it all. Beach fires, rolling turquoise waves, dog-friendly patches of sand, and a charming scenic path perfect for strolling — what's not to love? Whether it’s a weeklong vacay or a weekend getaway, the town of Carmel-by-the-Sea is a good home base, with delicious restaurants, charming hotels, and plenty of shops to pass your non-beach time.
Plage de l’Acciolu - Corsica
Corsica’s scrubland is an unlikely access point to the Mediterranean, but cross the Desert des Agriates and you’ll find one of the most serene spots in the region. Plage de Ostriconi is a delightful sandy beach fringed with dunes, but for seclusion you need to follow the scent of the maquis to Plage de l’Acciolu. Its fine white sand and crystal clear waters somehow manage to remain a secret.
Whitesands Bay - Wales
The Pembrokeshire Coast is one of the UK’s protected stretches of shoreline, its national park status restricting development and preserving character and natural beauty in equal measure. Hike the Pembrokeshire Coast Path and enjoy the view over Whitesands Bay from above before descending to the beach. Despite it being popular with local surfers, you’ll be unlucky to find it crowded outside the summer months.
Hanalei Bay - Hawaii, U.S.
The largest bay on the north shore of Kauai is Hanalei Bay, a two-mile sweep of flat beach surrounded by steep, jungle-clad mountains. This picturesque spot is perfect for swimming and stand-up paddle boarding in summer, and in winter the surfing is awesome. A long, covered pier is a favorite spot for fishing and picnicking, and kids of all ages will enjoy leaping from it into the crystal-clear water. The beach slopes so gradually into the water that it makes a wonderful play area for little ones just learning to swim (when there’s no surf), and the long span of water is fantastic for distance swimmers.
Reynisfjara - Iceland
Iceland is home to one of the world's most dramatic and contrasting landscapes, which are made all the more fascinating by its nearly 130 volcanoes. Since the island nation was founded in the 9th century, 18 of its volcanoes have erupted leaving Iceland with several beautiful black sand beaches. Of these, Reynisfjara is one of the most popular, otherwise known as Vik Beach for the nearby village. Lined with rock formations that jut from the ocean's breaking waves, the wide open views of this other worldly-looking beach are unmatched.
Anse Source d'Argent - Seychelles
There is no doubt that Seychelles is a beach lover’s dream come true. The problem is deciding which of the beaches to visit because this idyllic island nation offers up more stretches of sandy paradise than you can visit in one trip. Still, if we had to pick one, we'd go with Anse Source d'Argent—the world's most photographed beach. Powdery white sand is punctuated by massive boulders and framed by a fringe of palm trees. You'll find Anse Source d'Argent on the island of La Digue and if you want to stay close to this bit of paradise in the lap of luxury, the Le Relax Beach House is just a short walk down the beach.
Pink Beach - Komodo, Indonesia
As if the pink sands were not enough to make this island interesting, Komodo is also home to the legendary Komodo Dragon, the largest lizard in existence. While you probably won't see many of these modern-day dinosaurs roaming around during your visit, you can take in a number of other unique and impressive sights, such as the stunning blue water, and wide stretches of pink sand. Strap on goggles and go diving to get a glimpse of the well-maintained and gorgeous coral reefs that helped form the pink shoreline. You can go kayaking as well, or you can just lay out on the sand and get a tan.
Shela Beach - Lamu, Kenya
Lamu is a small group of islands found just north of the ancient city of Mombasa. Head to the powdery white sand beaches of Shela Village for a surprising beach paradise. There is no shortage of seaside activities here, from snorkeling in the clear blue waters to exploring via traditional Swahili fishing boat, called a dhow. Step back in time and experience the slow coastal living style of Lamu where time seems to stand still.
Clifton Beach - South Africa
With a clean shoreline and plethora of activities, Clifton Beach is the most popular family beach in Cape Town. This stretch of sand sits in the shadow of the iconic and breathtaking Table Mountain and is alive with a beehive of activity all year long. People don’t go to Clifton to swim because most of the year the water is frigid (it’s on the Atlantic Coast) but swarm to this amazing beach to hang out with friends and family, explore the eclectic eateries and dance the night away at the many nightclubs that line the shore.
Whitehaven Beach - Whitsunday Islands, Australia
Located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, Whitehaven is more than four miles long and provides the perfect backdrop to the Whitsunday Islands National Park. The view from the air is postcard-perfect with swirling patterns of aqua sea and blindingly white sand. Isolated and hard to access, this beach feels like a private paradise for all who venture here.
Cumberland Island - Georgia, U.S.
Georgia's largest and southernmost barrier island, Cumberland Island is home to one of the nation's most captivating beaches. You’ll feel as though you’ve stepped back in time while exploring this 18-mile sweep of golden sand. The remains of Spanish mission churches scatter the island and wild horses roam freely amid the grassy dunes. Access to the island is via water only and a passenger ferry departs from the city of St. Marys.
Second Beach - Washington, U.S.
Few things in life are as soothing as waking up to the sound of the ocean and you can do just that on Washington’s Olympic Coast. Pitch a tent in the shadow of soaring spruce trees, gaze in awe at dramatic sea stacks and sit around a camp fire at night. Entry to the beach is via a hiking path only, which starts just outside of La Plush coastal village. But those who make the trek will be rewarded with a serene landscape all to themselves.
Punalu'u Beach - Hawaii, U.S.
Punalu'u beach is a favorite Hawaiian destination, for good reason. The pristine black sands are the result of the Big Island's volcanic activity — lava flows into the ocean and explodes as it cools in the waves. The shoreline serves as a striking contrast to the clear waters of the Pacific and the surrounding, lush green vegetation. Visit the beach in the morning and step away from larger crowds of people to catch a glimpse at the hawksbill turtles and honu, or green sea turtles, that rest along the beach.
Hidden Beach - Marietas Island, Mexico
The “Hidden Beach,” officially called Playa del Amor or the “beach of love,” is located on Marietas Island, one of the islands that make up Marietas Islands National Park an hour northwest of Puerto Vallarta. It’s one of the most unique and magnificent islands along the entire west coast of Mexico. A gaping hole in the lush green surface of the island opens up to the hidden sands looking like something from a fantasy novel. It can only be accessed through a long water tunnel that links the beach to the ocean, with about six feet of space above water level, allowing visitors to arrive by kayak or by swimming.
Horseshoe Bay Beach - Bermuda
This horseshoe-shaped beach is beloved by beach-goers all over the world for its blush-colored, "pretty in pink" sand, which is a striking complement to the incredibly clear turquoise water that meets it. This beach isn't just for lying around, though — visitors can rent boogie boards to surf on the waves, play beach volleyball or even spend time in the secluded Port Royal Cove, which is perfect for children, as it keeps out the big (sometimes scary) ocean waves. You can also explore the sea caves hidden within nearby rock formations for some world-class adventuring.
Folly Beach - South Carolina, U.S.
About a 20-minute drive from Charleston is the beautiful and family-friendly Folly Beach. From admiring the views from the pier to surfing at Folly’s Washout and hiking in Folly Beach Country Park, there are endless activities on offer. The beach town also has a solid offering of bars, seafood shacks, inns and villas, too, so you won't feel too isolated in this hidden gem.
Cofete Beach - Canary Islands, Spain
Considered the crown jewel of Fuerteventura, Cofete Beach in the Canary Islands is one of the most breathtakingly wild beaches in the world. The whole island is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and features the longest white sand beach in all of the Canary Islands. Because of constant wind and waves, it's a dangerous beach for swimming, but the mountainous terrain and miles of soft sand make Cofete a must-visit destination, if for photo opportunities alone.
Koh Adang Island - Thailand
The tropical oasis of Koh Adang Island is part of the Tarutao National Marine Park in the Andaman Sea. To get there, you must either kayak or take a taxi boat from Koh Lipe in southwest Thailand but the end destination is worth the journey. The beaches on Ko Adang are quiet, even during the busy tourist season. Snorkeling and diving are top-notch, and you can even hike through the jungle to a couple of gorgeous waterfalls.
Salt Creek Beach Park - California, U.S.
Located in Dana Point, Southern California, Salt Creek Beach offers amazing views of both the California coast and a golf course. The best part though is that it has plenty of activities to choose from–whether it’s strolling along the path parallel to the beach, picnicking at one of the many tables in the park, enjoying the playground, or simply heading to the beach. The path stretches for several miles along the ocean, making it an ideal spot for dates or walking your dog.
Navagio Beach - Zakynthos, Greece
Navagio Beach (also known as Shipwreck Beach) is named for a smuggler’s boat that sits half submerged in golden sand. That isn’t the only impressive aspect of the bay though. Sheer cliffs rise up on either side and the sea displays a beguiling shade of milky blue. Set on the Greek island of Zakynthos in the Ionian Sea, the only way in is by boat and the beach is extremely popular during the summer months. Get an envy-inducing view by hiking a trail that travels over the northern cliffs.
Ocean Beach - Fire Island, New York, U.S.
Located in Suffolk County, New York, Fire Island is a mecca for urban dwellers who need some sand and surf on a long weekend, and its remote location makes it ideal to get away from the hustle and bustle (and automobile exhaust) of the city. With no paved roads, the island's vehicles are limited to emergency and service vehicles, so you'll have to get around by bike or on foot. You can also surf, sail and swim to your heart's content. Ocean Beach is one of the area's most popular due to the prolific sand dunes and clear waters—plus an abundance of restaurants and bars.