Are you searching for beautiful beaches for a destination wedding, a honeymoon, a romantic getaway, or family beach vacations? Are you into watersports like snorkeling, swimming, surfing, diving, and parasailing? Or are you more of a lay-on-the-beach-and-get-a-tan type of beach bum?
From pastel pink, sparkling white, and golden tan to black, purple, and even green, the world’s most beautiful beaches offer a wide array of textures, shades, and colorful mixtures.
Swaying palm trees and turquoise water tinged with sapphire, aqua, azure, and more blue words completes this serene scene.
Beach activities like catching a wave, building sandcastles, scooping up seashells, and just relaxing in the sun are popular on city beaches, tropical islands, and any secluded beach around the world.
While beach surfaces can consist of pebbles, rocks, and gravel, soft sand is a favorite among beachgoers. Sand is made up of tiny crystals of quartz, red foram, olivine and basalt lava, silica, iron oxide, and lots of other scientific-sounding things.
There are endless expanses of white sand beaches perfect for a sunset wedding or days of fun in the sun and surf. All you have to do is grab your flip-flops and go (and maybe grab a bottle of sunscreen as well).
From the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, the Great Barrier Reef, Matira Beach, and beyond, we’ve gathered a list of the most beautiful beaches in the world to get you started.
While there are buckets and buckets of beautiful well-known beaches – like Australia Whitehaven Beach, Princess Alexandra Marine Park in Turks and Caicos, Whitsunday Island, Clearwater Beach, Cannon Beach, Grace Bay Beach, Champagne Beach, Camps Bay Beach in Cape Town South Africa, and French Polynesia Matira Beach – we decided to go with some of the more exotic tropical beaches around the world. Let’s go!
Table of Contents
- 40 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World
- 1. Ipanema Beach: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- 2. Anse Source d’Argent: La Digue, Republic of Seychelles
- 3. Hidden Beach: Marieta Islands, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
- 4. Plage de St. Jean: St. Barths
- 5. Seven Mile Beach: Negril, Jamaica
- 6. Maya Bay: Ko Phi Phi, Thailand
- 7. Plage de Tahiti: Nevez, France
- 8. El Castillo: Tulum, Mexico
- 9. Baia do Sancho: Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
- 10. Bells Beach: Victoria, Australia
- 11. Paradise Beach: Mykonos, Greece
- 12. South Beach: Miami, Florida
- 13. Sunrise Beach (Haad Rin Nok): Koh Phangan, Thailand
- 14. Bahia Gardner: Espanola Island, Galapagos
- 15. Mosquito Bay: Vieques, Puerto Rico
- 16. White Bay: Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
- 17. Kite Beach: Cabarete, Dominican Republic
- 18. Manu Bay: Raglan, New Zealand
- 19. Glass Beach: Kauai, Hawaii
- 20. Lake McKenzie: Queensland, Australia
- 21. Rabbit Beach: Lampedusa, Italy
- 22. Gordon Beach: Tel Aviv, Israel
- 23. Paklinski Islands: Hvar, Croatia
- 24. East Beach: Santa Barbara, California
- 25. Rockaway Park: Queens, New York
- 26. Rainbow Beach: Queensland, Australia
- 27. Aharen Beach: Tokashiki Island, Japan
- 28. Cayo Largo: Cuba
- 29. Kauna’oa Bay (Mauna Kea): Hawaii
- 30. Pantai Tanjung Rhu: Malaysia
- 31. Perhentian Kecil: Malaysia
- 32. Ko Phi Phi Don: Thailand
- 33. Tulum Beach: Mexico
- 34. Lanikai Beach: Hawaii, Hawaii
- 35. Starfish Beach: Panama
- 36. Cala Saona Beach: Formentera, Spain
- 37. Koh Kradan Beach: Thailand
- 38. Greenfield Beach: New South Wales, Australia
- 39. Yyteri Beach: Pori, Finland
- 40. Comillas Beach: Cantabria, Spain
40 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World
1. Ipanema Beach: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Located in exciting Rio de Janeiro, Ipanema Beach is one of the most famous beaches in the world (think: the ’60s song “The Girl from Ipanema”). The 1.5-mile strand of white sand beach features mountain views, footvolley (a game that’s a mix of soccer and volleyball), and beautiful beach-goers.
This famous beach is divided into sections that appeal to different interests such as the fitness set, families, and partiers. There are a variety of bars and cafes around the beach area. The surf at Ipanema can be rough at times, so pay particular attention to posted signs.
The equally famous Copacabana Beach (think: Barry Manilow and “Copacabana”) is just a walk away from the pristine beach of Ipanema.
2. Anse Source d’Argent: La Digue, Republic of Seychelles
Anse Source d’Argent, located in La Digue, Republic of Seychelles, is popular for its nature reserve. Found on the southwest coast of La Digue, this bay beach is one of the most photographed beaches in the world due to the towering cliffs, rugged rocks, lush greenery, and pink sand.
Birdwatchers will want to bring binoculars to catch sight of the rare black flycatcher bird found in this beach destination.
The tiny island republic of Seychelles sits in the Somali Sea of the western Indian Ocean. For romantic beaches and tropical vacations, this is one of the best.
3. Hidden Beach: Marieta Islands, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Hidden Beach, found along the Marieta Islands about 22 miles off the coast of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is a beautiful and intimate beach. You have to either swim or kayak into the interior part of this location.
Also called the “beach of love,” this amazing beach is found within Marietas Islands National Park. It’s surrounded by lush greenery (great for shade access) and consists of an open cavern with soft white sand and the beautiful blue water of the Pacific Ocean. It’s like having your very own private island.
One of the best things to do on the beach is to join a snorkel cruise.
See Related: Best Fishing Spots in the World
4. Plage de St. Jean: St. Barths
Plage de St. Jean is one of the most gorgeous beaches in the world. It’s located in St. Barths in the French Caribbean. Located at the end of the island’s airport, the beach features a gently curving coastline perfect for families and kids.
Turquoise water and pristine sand make this one of the best beaches for snorkeling, swimming, and windsurfing.
5. Seven Mile Beach: Negril, Jamaica
Seven Mile Beach is in Negril, Jamaica and features gentle and crystal clear water, powder white sand, and watersports such as snorkeling, swimming, and diving.
One of the longest and most beautiful beaches in the world, Seven Mile Beach consists of a four-mile-long section and another three miles that extends into Bloody Bay.
The beach area offers concession stands and food vendors. Watch the sunset while sipping a Red Stripe for an authentic Jamaican experience.
6. Maya Bay: Ko Phi Phi, Thailand
Maya Bay is situated in Ko Phi Phi, Thailand. If it looks familiar, you’ve probably seen it in the 2000 movie The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio (or 1995’s Cutthroat Island, starring Geena Davis and Matthew Modine).
This secluded Andaman Sea beach is about an hour boat ride from Phuket and 22 miles off the coast of Railay Beach.
With gorgeous turquoise water, a beautiful white sand beach, a May Bay day trip, and towering cliffs all around, it’s a picture-perfect slice of heaven. Railay Beach also has stunning limestone cliffs if you’re looking for another beach in Thailand to visit.
7. Plage de Tahiti: Nevez, France
Located along the Ligurian Sea at the northern end of Pampelonne Beach, Plage de Tahiti is the epitome of French glitz and glamour.
Visited by celebrities and rock stars, this naturalist (read: nude) beach features wide sandy beaches, restaurants, and beachfront hotels.
8. El Castillo: Tulum, Mexico
Backed by the Mayan ruins of El Castillo, tropical trees, limestone cliffs, and rugged beach boulders, the beach at El Castillo features a sparkling strand of sandy beach and sapphire waves. The Tulum, Mexico beach sits in the Caribbean Sea between Cancun to the north and Quintana Roo to the south.
You’ll want to get there early, as this spectacular beach is quite popular (and rightly so).
9. Baia do Sancho: Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
Situated on the volcanic island of Fernando de Noronha, Brazil, Baia do Sancho offers turquoise water accented with coral reefs and sparkling white strips of sand. Located off the coast of Brazil in the South Atlantic Ocean, this stunning beach is perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
Look for exotic fish, sea turtles, and dolphins while enjoying untouched beaches at this National Marine Park area.
See Related: Most Photographed Cities in the World
10. Bells Beach: Victoria, Australia
Bells Beach, in Victoria, Australia, is found along the south shore coast near Melbourne. Tall cliffs surround the cove of ocean swells and offshore reefs. It’s located along the 150-mile stretch of Great Ocean Road.
Popular with the experienced surfing crowd, it’s a fun spot to sightsee and watch the experts carving waves.
See Related: Best Family Vacation Spots in the World
11. Paradise Beach: Mykonos, Greece
Paradise Beach is found in Mykonos, Greece. This party beach is popular with the young and hip crowd. Enjoy full-moon parties and the Tropicana Beach Bar, as well as other restaurants and bars.
Located in the Aegean Sea, Paradise Beach is within walking distance to numerous beaches in the area.
If you’re looking for other gorgeous beaches in Greece, consider Navagio Beach. It’s situated off the western coast in the Ionian Sea. Navagio Beach is definitely not within walking distance, but it’s a great Greek beach to check out.
12. South Beach: Miami, Florida
Miami, Florida’s South Beach is one of the most spectacular beaches in the U.S. for nightlife, people-watching, and South Florida glitz, cruise, and glamour.
This Atlantic Coast beach is one of the most popular on the East Coast. Enjoy beach bars, nightclubs, and live music after a day of sun and sand.
13. Sunrise Beach (Haad Rin Nok): Koh Phangan, Thailand
Looking for a Full Moon Party on the beach?
You’ll find it at Sunrise Beach in Koh Phangan, Thailand. You’ll also find swaying palms and impossibly blue water.
Not in a sunrise mood?
Sunset Beach is just through the palms on the other side of the cove.
14. Bahia Gardner: Espanola Island, Galapagos
Part of the Galapagos Islands, Bahia Gardner is the place to go if you like sea lions with your sand and surf. You might also see red lava lizards, iguanas, blue-footed boobies, and the mockingbird of Espanola along this strand of white sandy beach and calm clear water.
Go snorkeling for glimpses of tropical fish, rays, sea turtles, and white-tipped reef sharks (and more sea lions). You may also enjoy Galapagos island hopping on your visit.
15. Mosquito Bay: Vieques, Puerto Rico
Mosquito Bay is in Vieques, a small island off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Sea. You can expect warm water and beautiful views of towering cliffs.
It’s world-famous for the bioluminescent light show that happens due to dinoflagellates, a species of phytoplankton that glows when agitated. We don’t really know why these creatures get so agitated (they must have kids), but they put on an incredible show of glowing blue light. You may enjoy seeing the blue light by joining an overnight kayak tour.
There are only five of these ecosystems in the world (there are two others in Puerto Rico as well as one each in Vietnam and Jamaica). Mosquito Bay is the most spectacular and magical.
As you can imagine, it’s a popular spot for nighttime visiting, snorkeling, and kayaking.
16. White Bay: Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
White Bay sits peacefully in Jost Van Dyke, one of the smallest of the British Virgin Islands. Soft white sand and turquoise-tinged waves wash gently ashore, making this one of the most pristine beaches we can imagine.
With its casual bars, palm-tree-lined front, and white net hammocks, it’s a popular spot for boaters and day-trippers from other islands in the BVIs and USVIs.
You can’t miss the world-famous Soggy Dollar Bar. It gets its name from the fact that boaters have to anchor out and wade ashore (thereby running the risk of having soggy dollar bills).
No worries, though. The water is only about three to four feet deep. And the bar does accept soggy dollars.
17. Kite Beach: Cabarete, Dominican Republic
Kite Beach is in Cabarete, Dominican Republic on the northern coast. It gets its name from the incredible kitesurfing. There’s a huge competition held each year. If you’ve ever wanted to learn to kitesurf, this is the place to do it. There’s a school that teaches everything related to the sport.
Lazy tubing is among the best things to experience in Cbarete.
Just north of Cabarete, in Turks and Caicos, is Caicos Grace Bay Beach. Grace Bay Beach, on the island of Providenciales, is another Caribbean location for fans of sand and calm clear water. Grace Bay is about three miles long and home to luxury hotels.
18. Manu Bay: Raglan, New Zealand
Don’t know how to surf?
Take surfing lessons in Raglan.
It was featured in the 1966 surf documentary Endless Summer. Regular surfing competitions are held at this central western coast beach along the Tasman Sea.
Along with Hawaii, it’s known for its black sand beaches. Those huge swells are just an added bonus for the surfing set.
19. Glass Beach: Kauai, Hawaii
Glass Beach, in Hanapepe Bay on the south shore of Kauai, Hawaii, is not necessarily a great swimming beach (it’s rocky and small), but it’s a must-see for any beach bum’s (sand) bucket list (pun intended, by the way).
The sheltered bay of black sand is covered in small stones and colorful polished sea glass. If you’re not in the know, sea glass is simply broken glass that’s been twisted, tossed, and tumbled in the surf and sand to a smooth finish. It then gets deposited ashore as a sparkling blob of blue, green, or brown (bonus points if you find red). Voila! Sea glass.
The tide and current are responsible for the amount of sea glass you can find on any given day.
If you’re in the mood for more sand and surf, head up to the coast of Kauai to Polihale Beach on the central western coast. Polihale Beach is the longest stretch of beach in Hawaii. The water can get rough, but it’s a stunning sunset-watching location.
Other great Kauai beaches include Tunnels Beach and Shipwreck Beach. Popular for surfing, Shipwreck Beach is about 30 minutes away.
20. Lake McKenzie: Queensland, Australia
The calm clear waters of Lake McKenzie (also known as Boorangoora) are found on Fraser Island just off the eastern coast of Queensland, Australia near Brisbane. It’s located in Great Sandy National Park along the Coral Sea.
While not as well-known as the Whitsunday Islands, it’s one of the most popular sites in the area. The sand is made up of super soft white silica that’s an absolute dream to walk on.
Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world. The freshwater lake is one of the world’s cleanest because of its status as a “perched” lake. The water only comes from rain (no groundwater or inflow from streams). The layer of matter at the bottom of the lake keeps the water from draining away.
21. Rabbit Beach: Lampedusa, Italy
Spiaggia dei Conigli, or Rabbit Beach, is situated on the tiny island of Lampedusa, Italy in the Mediterranean Sea. You’ll find it off the southwest coast of Sicily near the coast of North Africa.
If you’re wondering how it got the name rabbit, well, the island used to be inhabited by rabbits. Easy enough, huh?
The secluded cove is surrounded by rocky cliffs and makes a breathtaking place to spend the day perched on super fine sand while gazing at the gorgeous blue water. You just might see dolphins. It’s also a favorite spot for loggerhead turtles.
While we’re on the subject of the African continent, you may want to visit Camps Bay Beach in Cape Town, South Africa. Camps Bay in Cape Town features mountain views with the convenience of bars and restaurants.
See Related: Most Beautiful Cities in the World
22. Gordon Beach: Tel Aviv, Israel
Gorden Beach, in Tel Aviv, Israel, is situated along a cove in the Mediterranean Sea. The beach features a strip of golden sand backed by hotels, bars, restaurants, and dance clubs. It’s one of the area’s most popular beaches for locals and tourists.
Take in a game of volleyball or go walking and bicycling. There are various events and activities during the summer months.
23. Paklinski Islands: Hvar, Croatia
Located off the southwest coast of Hvar Island in Croatia. This small chain of islands along the Adriatic Sea features secluded beaches, hidden coves, and crystal clear water. Cruising to Hvar is among the exciting things to do.
Also known as Pakleni, the island is accessible only by boat, so that’s an added benefit of visiting this beautiful beach. There are several beaches for snorkeling, swimming, or relaxing.
24. East Beach: Santa Barbara, California
Whether you’re into swimming, surfing, kayaking, or stand-up paddleboarding, you can do it all and more at East Beach. Located in Santa Barbara, California, it’s the entry point to the sand and surf culture of Southern California.
The beautiful sandy Pacific Ocean beach has a nearby tree-lined park and amenities such as a volleyball court, a skate park, a restaurant, restrooms, and more. We think this is the perfect beach scene for families with members of all ages.
Looking for another Pacific Coast beach to visit?
Head up the coast to Cannon Beach in Oregon for excellent views of Haystack Rock and other natural attractions.
25. Rockaway Park: Queens, New York
Surfers, swimmers, and boardwalk walkers enjoy Rockaway Park Beach. Located in Queens, New York, the area sits between the Atlantic Ocean and Jamaica Bay.
Enjoy concession stands, playgrounds, and year-round activities at this urban beach.
26. Rainbow Beach: Queensland, Australia
Found in Queensland, off the eastern coast of Australia, Rainbow Beach gets its name from the colorful sand dunes that flow down to meet gorgeous blue water. There are stunning mixtures of tan, red, orange, yellow, and black sand to sink your toes into.
The beach is an entry port into the Cooloola National Park. It’s also near the already-mentioned Fraser Island. So be sure to visit both if you’re in the area. A beach tour will give you a memorable trip.
Rainbow Beach is just south of the Great Barrier Reef, which stretches from Bundaberg to the tip of Cape York along the Coral Sea. Consider the equally beautiful Whitehaven Beach for a Great Barrier Reef trip. Whitehaven Beach is about 465 miles from Rainbow Beach.
Accessible by boat or seaplane, Whitehaven Beach is on Whitsunday Island and features warm tropical waters for snorkeling, swimming, and daydreaming.
27. Aharen Beach: Tokashiki Island, Japan
Aharen Beach, situated along the western coast of Tokashiki Island in Japan, offers sparkling sand, sapphire water, and tropical fish for your snorkeling pleasure. Check out turtles, humpback whales, and other marine life while relaxing along this secluded cove.
It’s along the Okinawa island chain south of the Japanese mainland in the East China Sea.
28. Cayo Largo: Cuba
With powder-soft sand and warm shallow water, Cuba’s tiny Cayo Largo is found off the south coast of the island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.
Playa Sirena and Playa Paraiso are the two main beaches on this resort island. You’ll find mangroves, palms, iguanas, turtles, and colorful fish in the coral reef. This island destination is a great choice for beach and nature lovers.
29. Kauna’oa Bay (Mauna Kea): Hawaii
Kauna’oa Bay is located on the northwestern Kohala Coast of Hawaii. There’s a golf course and resort hotel near this beautiful bay beach.
Palms and a shimmering white sand beach welcome beachgoers to this idyllic Hawaiian setting.
30. Pantai Tanjung Rhu: Malaysia
Sitting peacefully on Langkawi Island, Malaysia’s Pantai Tanjung Rhu is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Island hopping tour is among the best activities to enjoy here.
It offers aquamarine water and a sparkling white sand beach in a secluded cove along the Strait of Malacca.
31. Perhentian Kecil: Malaysia
Located on Perhentian Island, along the northeastern coast of Malaysia, the exotic Perhentian Kecil beach features a stunning set of palm trees, emerald water, and red-roofed buildings.
A walking trail connects the island’s two beaches, Coral Beach and Long beach. Coral Bay offers stunning sunsets, a rocky beach, and a relaxed vibe, while Long Beach has nightlife and an equally beautiful beach. Both have a few restaurants and hotels.
This island beach is popular with backpackers, snorkelers, and divers.
32. Ko Phi Phi Don: Thailand
Accessible by ferry or speedboat, the turquoise water and stunning rock formations of Ko Phi Phi Don make it a great choice for a tropical beach destination.
Cliffs, palms, colorful coral reefs, and marine life invite nature lovers to this tropical beach.
33. Tulum Beach: Mexico
Tulum Beach in Tulum, Mexico, offers stunning turquoise water and soft sand along the Caribbean Sea. The area has lots of beach bars and restaurants as well as shady palm trees.
See Related: Diving the Cenotes of Yucatan
34. Lanikai Beach: Hawaii, Hawaii
Located on the southeastern coast of Oahu, Hawaii, Lanikai Beach is accented with palm trees, golden sand, sapphire water, and offshore mountain formations.
The fringing reef provides miles of calm water for swimming and snorkeling.
35. Starfish Beach: Panama
Starfish Beach is situated on the tiny island of Bocas del Toro, just north of mainland Panama. It’s on the northwestern coast of the Caribbean Sea. Don’t forget to experience the fun snorkel and zip line tour in panama.
As the name suggests, the beach has an abundance of starfish in its crystal clear waters.
36. Cala Saona Beach: Formentera, Spain
Known as the jewel of the west coast of Formentera, Cala Saona Beach is a stunning setting of crystal clear water, sparkling sand, and rich red cliffs. The tiny island sits off the east coast of Spain in the Balearic Sea.
The small cove is one of the best beaches around for snorkeling, paddleboarding, and kayaking. Don’t miss the sunsets.
37. Koh Kradan Beach: Thailand
One of Thailand’s best beaches, Koh Kradan Beach sits in the Andaman Sea. Go snorkeling and check out colorful fish or just relax in a hammock at this secluded beach.
38. Greenfield Beach: New South Wales, Australia
Located within Jervis Bay in the South Pacific Ocean, Greenfield Beach features some of the bluest water and whitest sand you’ll ever see.
Greenfield Beach is on the southwest coast of Australia just south of Sydney. Beach bums can enjoy a day of snorkeling, swimming, and picnicking.
The park is part of Jervis Bay National Park and features a nearby forest, walking trails, and stone cliffs.
39. Yyteri Beach: Pori, Finland
Yyteri Beach is located in Pori, Finland on the western coast. Powder soft sand is backed by dunes and pine forests. Situated along the Gulf of Bothnia, this beach is near the Yyteri Nature Trail and the Bothnian Sea National Park. It’s a popular summer destination for locals.
The water is fairly calm and shallow, which makes it a great beach for families with small children. Beachgoers can enjoy surfing, beach volleyball, and other beach activities.
If you need a break from the beach, you can go birdwatching or explore the coastal forest.
40. Comillas Beach: Cantabria, Spain
Situated on the north shore of Cantabria, Comillas Beach is popular for sailing, diving, and sunbathing on fine golden sand. The trendy resort town is situated in a picturesque Cantabrian Sea location.
Enjoy views of the Picos de Europa cliffs and copper-colored rooftops of local homes.
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