25 Best Beaches Around the World
It's always summer somewhere. Whether you love the feeling of sand between your toes or are enticed by spectacular sights of water that stretch as far as the eyes can see, the world's top beaches are more than worthy of your attention. Here are 25 of the best ones to get you started:
1. Copacabana Beach, Brazil
A truly iconic beach if there ever was one, Copacabana is Rio de Janeiro's crowning jewel, a magnificent stretch of sand that's as beautiful as it is electric. What's more, Copacabana is also a very diverse place. A portion known as the Stock is famed for its inclusiveness, being easily recognizable for its ubiquitous rainbow flag. Then you have the impromptu soccer fields near Rua Santa Clara, where aspiring players come to ply their trade amidst the sand. As Copacabana stretches north, the quieter sands of Leme welcome those eager for a bit of relaxation. Add to that a countless number of kiosks serving those famous caipirinha cocktails and you have all the makings of a truly cosmopolitan beach.
2. Anse Source d'Argent, Seychelles
If what they say about images being worth a thousand words is true, Anse Source D'Argent in the Seychelles sure has inspired a lot of them. Often claimed to be the most photographed beach in the entire world, this La Digue hotspot gives new meaning to the word "breathtaking". The area is known primarily for its natural beauty, with clean turquoise waters, soft golden sand and several pristine granite boulders scattered about. Due to it being protected from the open ocean by a coral reef, Anse Source D'Argent also has the added benefit of boasting calm, shallow waters that are perfect for swimming newbies or families with small children.
3. Whitehaven Beach, Australia
Another beach that regularly earns plaudits for its untouched beauty, Whitehaven is the cream of the crop of Australia's Whitsunday Islands. Although only accessible by boat, it's a relatively easy trip from Hamilton Island off the coast of Queensland. Whitehaven's defining characteristic is its impossibly white sand, which is composed of 98% pure white silica, which also makes it soft to the touch. Unlike usual sand, it doesn't retain heat, so you can walk barefoot on it for extended periods of time. Popular activities at Whitehaven include sailing and snorkeling, but you can also explore things from above by booking a seaplane ride.
4. Ipanema Beach, Brazil
The second Brazilian beach on our list is famous enough to have inspired a perennial pop hit, the iconic "Girl from Ipanema" song that's still a staple of bossa nova artists all over the globe. More laidback than Copacabana, Ipanema is celebrated for its gorgeous sunsets and relaxed atmosphere. The ideal spot to be at twilight is Arpoador, from where sunsets are regularly greeted with applause by an adoring crowd. Aside from that, Ipanema is a great place to practice beach sports, with amenities for everything from footvolley and paddleball to surfing and kitesurfing.
5. Bondi Beach, Australia
Most city beaches are either constantly overcrowded or have trouble maintaining quality standards, but while Bondi Beach has seen its share of ups and downs, it has endured as an iconic Australian symbol for the better part of a century. Located just 4 miles east of Sydney's central business district, the beach sees a substantial influx of locals and visitors, especially during weekends. But it has managed to maintain its distinctive allure, one that includes a focus on sporting events like the annual City to Surf Fun Run and more artistic displays such as the Winter Magic Festival and November's Sculpture by the Sea exhibition. Try coming in early in order to beat the crowds and soak up the best that Sydney can offer.
6. Grace Bay Beach, Turks and Caicos Islands
A luxurious stretch of sand that is often considered to be the hallmark of Turks and Caicos, Grace Bay is a true beach connoisseur's dream destination. The entire beach is consistently excellent, featuring clean water and pristine white sand with nary a rock in sight. Due to the presence of a local barrier reef, Grace Bay is protected from the harsher currents of the Atlantic, which results in remarkably calm waters that are perfect for swimming, paddleboarding, windsurfing and jet skiing. For those of you who prefer to peer underwater, Bight Reef is an excellent snorkeling spot, while the nearby Turtle Cove marina offers excellent dining and drinking amenities.
7. Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Islands
Despite the fact that in reality the beach is just over 6.3 miles long, the Cayman Islands' Seven Mile Beach is more than worthy of the attention it gets. Featuring a lively bar and restaurant scene in addition to some of the clearest and most fish-rich waters in the Caribbean, this gorgeous stretch of sand is located on the western end of Grand Cayman island. Snorkeling and diving are two of the most popular activities here, particularly in hotspots such as the aptly-titled Stingray City, a place where you can witness and even interact with friendly stingrays. Additionally, you can also engage in some retail therapy by perusing the 9 shopping plazas that are located along the beach.
8. Playa Ruinas, Mexico
Who says beaches and historical artefacts are mutually exclusive? If you pay a visit to Playa Ruinas near Tulum on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, you'll get the best of both worlds. On the one hand, you can enjoy the turquoise waters and delicate white sands the beach has been blessed with. On the other, you owe it to yourself to check out some of the incredible Mayan ruins that deck the beach. The clifftop Castillo is particularly impressive, having been built to serve as a watchtower back in the 13 century – since then it has become the third most-visited archeological site in all of Mexico.
9. Waikiki Beach, USA
Hawaii and idyllic beaches go hand in hand, so it's no surprise that the Aloha State has several worthy contenders for beach lovers to choose from. Among them, Waikiki Beach may just be the most diverse and easily accessible. Located just 4 miles southeast of downtown Waikiki, the beach benefits from having the imposing Diamond Head as its dramatic backdrop. Here, surfing is all the rage, with riders of all skill levels trying to conquer the beach's waves. Additionally, you can enjoy complimentary hula shows at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa, or opt to go on a snorkeling expedition, during which you're bound to run into several sea turtles and schools of colorful fish.
10. Seminyak Beach, Indonesia
Bali is another island that's virtually synonymous with the idea of lounging under the sun. While there are several beaches that vie for your attention here, Seminyak is the most sophisticated and upscale of them all. Fashion boutiques and top dining spots line up the streets near the beach, with the beach's glitzy atmosphere being complimented by a sunny and breezy ambience that's perfect for activities ranging from surfing to kite flying. Seminyak also stands out by offering some of the best sunsets in all of Bali, so be sure to book a sun lounger and enjoy that magical twilight atmosphere with your favorite drink in hand.
11. Pig Beach, The Bahamas
Beaches and animals often go hand in hand, but usually we're talking about sea creatures, not land mammals. Yet the aptly-titled Pig Beach in the Bahamas is famed for its swimming pigs, a colony of wild hogs that inhabit the island. Far from being dangerous, the pigs themselves are quite friendly and have been known to interact with visitors. Just be sure to follow existing regulations with regards to pig feeding and you should have a wonderful time. In addition to its furry inhabitants, Pig Beach also boasts the kind of clear, shallow waters that make the Bahamas such a dream destination for beach lovers.
12. Red Sand Beach, Galapagos Islands
While most of the world's beaches range from milky white to dark yellow with every shade in-between, there are exceptions to the rule. One such exception is the fabulous Red Sand Beach on Rabida Island. Located within the Galapagos archipelago, the island is mostly made up of volcanic rock with a high iron content, which translates into the mesmerizing red sand you see on the shore. The beach would be beautiful on its own, but as a bonus it is also populated by various stunning creatures such as sea lions and pink flamingos. Snorkeling is a popular activity here, especially along the rocks on the east end of the beach.
13. Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland
Speaking of unconventionally-colored beaches, Reynisfjara in Iceland stands out due to its stark black coloring. In addition to its black volcanic sands, the beach also boasts several unique rock formations known as the Reynisdrangar sea stacks, which can be viewed from the shore. Other highlights include the stunning Halsanefshellir sea cave and the ominous Gardar cliff, which bears an uncanny resemblance to a giant pipe organ. Reynisfjara is also famous for its strong currents, with waves often crashing the shores with punishing strength, which is why you should steer clear of the water's edge at all times.
14. Palm Beach, Aruba
A glamorous stretch of sand that often serves as a playground for the rich and famous, Aruba's Palm Beach is filled with glitzy hotels, sparkling casinos and top-notch restaurants. The beach's nightlife is the stuff of legends, featuring a dizzying array of buzzing clubs that you can choose from. But some might argue that Aruba's charm shines brightest in its quieter side. Walking down Palm Beach at twilight lets you admire the tangerine sunsets that the island is known for, while the beach's calm waters ensure that swimmers and snorkelers alike will have a blast exploring its surroundings.
15. Golden Horn Beach, Croatia
Also known as Zlatni Rat, Golden Horn Beach is proof that not all top-level beaches are based in tropical settings. From its location on the southern coast of Croatia, the beach is well-known for its distinctive shape, crystal clear waters and small-pebble shore. There are amenities here for everything from jet-skiing to windsurfing, with the latter being a particularly popular activity in the afternoon when westerly winds blow over the area. Bordering Golden Horn is a delicate pine tree grove where the remnants of a Roman villa rustica can be found, and there are even some nudist-friendly spots along the westernmost edge of the beach.
16. Pink Sands Beach, Bahamas
If you're the romantic kind, strolling down the effervescent Pink Sands Beach might just be a dream come true. Located on Harbour Island in the Bahamas, this vast stretch of sand owes its unique coloring to the thousands of broken coral pieces and shells left behind by tiny marine creatures known as foraminifera. Simply enjoying a gorgeous sunset on this beach can be an unforgettable experience, but the Pink Sands Beach also offers opportunities for snorkeling and swimming, boasting several outlying reefs that you can explore at your convenience. Horseback riding on the beach is another popular activity, especially for couples and honeymooners.
17. Horseshoe Bay Beach, Bermuda
Forget about the Bermuda triangle. Getting to Bermuda is easy and safe, not to mention worth it when you consider all the beautiful beaches that await at your destination. But even amidst heavy competition, Horseshoe Bay stands out due to its picturesque oval shape and the sheer natural beauty of its surroundings. Featuring fine white sand and clear blue waters, the bay has everything from hidden caves to towering rock formations from where you can catch Bermuda's famous sunrises. Add in amenities for beach sports like a weekly volleyball competition and you have yourself a beach to remember.
18. South Beach, USA
Some beaches benefit from being remote, but others truly make the most of their cosmopolitan setting. Such is the case with South Beach, Miami's premier resting spot and one of the most popular attractions in the city. Aside from its pulsing Art Deco hotels and fancy cocktail bars, the beach also has a supremely dramatic shoreline, best admired from the nearby South Pointe Park. Be sure to spend your evenings perusing the nightclubs that adorn Ocean Drive, and don't leave before strolling down Espanola Way in order to take in the old Spanish architecture.
19. Psarou Beach, Greece
Greece is the land of innumerable beautiful islands, many of which boast top-level beaches that can rival anything the Caribbean has to offer. One example is Mykonos, whose flagship Psarou Beach blends crystal clean waters and white sand with the kind of glamorous atmosphere usually reserved for luxury beaches. Take advantage of the occasion by dining at the iconic Nammos Restaurant by the Sea, an exclusive establishment replete with outdoor seating and world-famous chefs. And feel free to indulge in one of the many sports that are habitually practiced on or near the beach, including jet skiing, motor boating, surfing and scuba diving.
20. Hidden Beach, Mexico
Like its name suggests, Mexico's Hidden Beach is located a bit off the beaten path. As part of the Marieta Islands, the beach is invisible from the outside and is only accessible through a long water tunnel that links it to the Pacific Ocean. Once inside, prepare to be greeted by calm waters in a supremely intimate setting, one that's perfect for couples or those wishing to get away from it all. Be aware, however, that access is limited to a few people per day, so you'll need to reserve your spot in advance if you want to spend some time nestled in this little wonderland.
21. Hot Water Beach, New Zealand
Located between Tairua and Whitianga, this New Zealand beach is unlike any other due to being located on top of an underground river of hot water. Two hours before or after the low tide, visitors can actually unearth the hot water lurking beneath the sands and use it to form impromptu spa pools. During these times, it's quite common for beach dwellers to dig up their own pool and bask in its hot glow before venturing off into the sea to cool off. Aside from this unique feature, Hot Water Beach also boasts great conditions for surfing, as well as plenty of cafes and galleries.
22. Calangute Beach, India
The crowning jewel of North Goa, Calangute is the kind of beach that draws tourists in droves. Sometimes referred to as the "Queen of Beaches", Calangute is known for its warm waters and frantic nightlife. Water sports such as parasailing and water skiing are quite popular in the area, but you can also spend your days perusing the numerous shacks that sell handicrafts from places as far-flung as Tibet. The sheer popularity of the beach means that crowds are inevitable, but you can turn that into an advantage if you come early and aren't afraid to make a few friends during your stay.
23. Boulders Beach, South Africa
A sheltered spot located in the Cape Peninsula, Boulders Beach is a stunning example of man's cohabitation with nature. Despite its proximity to Cape Town, South Africa's second-largest city, Boulders Beach has become a haven for African penguins, who can often be seen scurrying down the beach or scaling the granite boulders that give it its name. Visitors can approach the penguins or admire them in their natural habitat from a specially-designed walkway. Swimming is also permitted at Boulders Beach, but people are understandably restricted to just the sands adjacent to the penguin colony.
24. Railay Beach, Thailand
Arriving at Railay Beach, one might be forgiven for thinking that they've finally reached heaven. With its dramatic limestone cliffs and immaculate waters, this gorgeous slice of heaven is as tranquil and as beautiful to look at as they come. At Railay there are no roads, only footpaths. Acces is only possible by boat, but everything you'd want to explore is located within walking distance. Rock climbing the cliffs that surround the beach is a popular activity, but even if you don't want to exert yourself you can still look forward to some stellar sunbathing sessions on Railay Beach's pristine white sands.
25. Glass Beach, USA
Nature is renowned for being able to turn waste into wonder. If you want an example of this, look no further than California's Glass Beach. Located near Fort Bragg, the beach served as a dumping ground for a very long time before it was finally closed off in 1967. In the intervening years, however, the beach's pounding waves broke down the glass and pottery remnants, tumbling them into smooth and shiny colored pieces that now cover most of the shore. Indeed, visitors coming to Glass Beach today will be welcomed by a colorful display of multicolored pellets that serve as a stark reminder of nature's prowess in the face of adversity.
Keep in mind that the best beach is always the one where you feel most at home, so don't be afraid to expand your horizons beyond the choices listed here. And always remember to pack that sunscreen no matter which beach you choose.