The saline aroma of salt in the air, the relaxing murmur of waves, the delicate pinch of sand whipped up by the light breeze: there’s something about a decent beach that enlivens the senses. A favorite beach is like a favorite poem: it’s unique, significant, and makes our hearts sing, and we’re dreaming of days spent wriggling our toes in the sand and wallowing in salty water now more than ever.
Instead of the conventional sandy sites packed with sun umbrellas and throngs of tourists, we’ve sought out locations that may need a little more effort, but are nevertheless breathtakingly beautiful and often devoid of crowds. These are the best beaches in the globe, ranging from the most beautiful beaches in Europe to far-flung lengths in Asia, Africa, and beyond.
1. Benguerra Island, Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique
2. Whitehaven Beach, Australia
3. Playa Paraiso, Cayo Largo del Sur, Cuba
4. Tunnels Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
5. Al Mughsail, Salalah, Oman
6. Tulum, Mexico
7. Cala Goloritzè, Sardinia
8. Ora Beach, Indonesia
9. Awaroa, South Island, New Zealand
10. Baker Beach, San Francisco
11. Grand Anse, Grenada
12. Honopu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
13. Keem Bay, Achill Island, Ireland
14. Fakarava, French Polynesia
15. Marathonisi, Zakynthos, Greece
The flawless white-sand islet of Marathonisi, also known as Turtle Island, is an important breeding location for endangered loggerhead sea turtles, therefore visitors must keep within five meters of the ocean to prevent disturbing them. Fill your lungs with the pine-scented air before snorkeling or boating to the nearby sea caves, but remember to bring supplies: this Greek Island beach is home only to seals, turtles, and forests.
16. Chesterman Beach, Vancouver Island, Canada
17. The Baths, British Virgin Islands
Large granite rocks cover the coast at Virgin Gorda’s southern edge, providing small pools that are perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
18. Anse Source d’Argent, Seychelles
19. Seagrass Bay, Laucala Island, Fiji
20. Hidden Beach, Palawan, Philippines
Although it isn’t quite as secluded as it once was, this beach remains one of the best in the world. Hidden Beach, bordered by massive limestone cliffs and boasting stunningly bone-white sand, is separated from the turquoise ocean by a small keyhole-like entrance that guests must climb through to access the lagoon.
21. Ile aux Cerfs, Mauritius
22. Trunk Bay, St. John USVI
23.Turquoise Bay, Exmouth, Australia
24. Playa Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
Three-toed sloths and white-faced capuchin monkeys emerge from the coastal rainforest to the joy of small beachgoers at this popular family beach, which is bordered by the wildlife-rich Manuel Antonio National Park. The park’s entry is a 30-minute climb (keep a watch out for howler monkeys smashing through the canopy), but once you’re there, you’ll find gentle sands, great swimming, and honey-hued sunsets.