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34 Best Beach Vacations in the World

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Whenever life starts to bring us down, we crave a holiday. And few things offer the allure of beach vacations, where the blend of sun, sand, and surf works wonders for the soul. Simply being by the water can be enough to banish our blues, recharge our batteries, and help us get back on the proverbial horse.

Thankfully, our planet has a lot of sand to choose from, and most people are never too far away from a suitable beach destination. And there are plenty of options for the type of vacation you’re looking for.

From reading a trashy airport novel on a private beach to a raucous fiesta on a party island. From thrilling watersports to sunbathing for hours on end.

From snorkeling coral reefs to sampling delicious seafood, beach vacations can be whatever you want, whether escaping reality, watching stunning sunsets, or all-out adventure.

Huge Building by the Ocean

In this guide, we’ll search through some of the most breathtaking beach towns and secluded stretches of sand to help you book the perfect coastal escape that ticks all your boxes – luxury amenities, budget-friendly deals, thrilling entertainment, or that quiet room with a view.

Best Beach Vacations in the World

1. Portstewart Strand, Northern Ireland

Portstewart Strand Beach, Ireland
SJVL / Adobe Stock

Portstewart Strand in County Londonderry is one of the best beaches in Northern Ireland. It’s a beautiful two-mile-long stretch with pristine sand, perfect for family vacations.

Protected by the National Trust, this spectacular beach is known for its historical significance and windswept beauty. You can enjoy a vast range of activities here, including walking, horse riding, swimming, and surfing.

Keen wildlife spotters will be in their element, and the 6,000-year-old dunes have been declared an Area of Special Scientific Interest. Get a metal detector and go treasure hunting – you’ll never know what you might find.

2. Coffee Bay, South Africa

Beautiful day in Coffee bay in the Wild Coast region, South Africa, Africa
LMspencer / Shutterstock

Coffee Bay in South Africa is a beautiful beach ideal for adventure seekers. Just under 160 miles from Durban, this tranquil paradise is known for its local folklore, breathtaking views, cliffs, and green hills.

The small, close-knit community of Coffee Bay has a population of less than 300, but it’s a friendly spot rich with the history and culture of the Xhosa people. It’s a popular beach destination for surfers and people who want to escape it all.

Don’t miss a visit to the nearby Hole in the Wall. No, it’s not an ATM, but a unique rock formation over the sea amplifies the waves sound.

3. Navagio Beach, Greece

Zakynthos, Greek island, Navagio bay
kwiatek7 / Adobe Stock

Navagio Beach in Greece is a breathtaking stretch of beach located on the northwest shore of Zakynthos. This beach attracts thousands of tourists annually and is well-known for being one of the most photographed beaches in the country.

Also known as Shipwreck Beach, it boasts dramatic limestone cliffs, blazing white sand, and pristine turquoise waters. Surrounded by natural beauty, this stunning beach is an excellent spot for swimming and sunbathing.

Navagio Beach also offers a wide range of watersports and excursion activities. Try this popular Navagio Beach and Blue Caves tour, which takes in most of the ideal attractions that the island has to offer.

See Related: Quiet Greek Islands to Visit

4. The Baths, British Virgin Islands

Young woman snorkeling in turquoise tropical water among huge granite boulders at The Baths
BlueOrange Studio / Shutterstock

One of the world’s most spectacular beaches can be found in the British Virgin Islands. The Baths of Southern Virgin Gorda feature giant granite boulders deposited by volcanic activity. They form breathtaking pools, tunnels, and grottos, ripe for exploration.

The beach attracts visitors from around the globe with its unusual topography, white sands, clear water, and tropical palms. Make sure you visit the famous Cathedral Room for some Insta-worthy snapshots.

Situated on one of the best islands on Earth, The Baths are a must-visit destination if you like unique beach trips. The best time to visit here is spring break for ideal weather.

5. Ipanema Beach, Brazil

Ipanema beach with mosaic of sidewalk in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Ekaterina Belova / Adobe Stock

One of the world’s best tropical vacation spots, visiting Brazil’s beautiful beaches makes for a memorable holiday. Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro is an iconic destination, popular with sunbathers, volleyballers, and the samba-style of Brazillian beach football.

As part of one of the trendiest neighborhoods in the city, Ipanema runs for just over one and a half miles. Washed by the azure blue waters of the South Atlantic Ocean, it’s the place to see and be seen.

Although less crowded than its famous cousin, Copacabana, Ipanema still attracts its fair share of the summer horde. Go early in the morning if you want to avoid the main crowd, and try this Copacabana and Ipanema walking tour to learn how Rio’s colorful culture makes these some of the best beaches in the world.

6. Falassarna Beach, Greece

Scenery of Falassarna beach on Crete, Greece
kwiatek7 / Adobe Stock

Falassarna Beach is one of the most renowned beaches in Greece. Located on the island of Crete, it’s never too crowded and offers much for sun, sea, and sand lovers.

The beach is perfect for sunset watching, and many tourists mention its breathtaking views as one of the highlights of a visit. You’ll find lounge chairs on its white sands, as well as shower facilities and changing areas nearby.

There are also some excellent hiking trails in the region, and you can explore ancient ruins, shipwreck sites, and sleepy coastal villages. This day trip from Chania & Platanias takes in Falassarna and the equally beautiful Elafonissi Beach.

7. Rabbit Beach, Italy

Aerial view of Rabbit Beach and Rabbit Island Lampedusa
jackbolla / Shutterstock

Once voted the best beach worldwide by Tripadvisor users, Rabbit Beach on the southern coast of Sicily is a remote paradise. So-called thanks to its former overwhelming rabbit population, it also features loggerhead sea turtles, dolphins, and other animals roaming tide pools and rocky caverns.

But if you’re a keen sailor or scuba diver – this beach isn’t for you. Both are prohibited to protect the islet’s ecosystem and marine reserve, and swimming is only allowed from the land.

8. Wineglass Bay, Tasmania

Wineglass Bay on the Freycinet Peninsula in North East Tasmania on a clear sunny day
Atosan / Shutterstock

Tasmania is known for its natural beauty, and if you visit Wineglass Bay, you’ll think someone has turned up the color saturation. The waters are a breathtaking blue, the soft sand is a brilliant white, and the surrounding vegetation is a lush green.

Situated in the stunning Freycinet National Park, Wineglass Bay features one of the most beautiful uncrowded beaches you’re ever likely to find. With a dramatic backdrop of the Hazards mountain range, plenty of hiking trails exist to explore the area. This region’s history is as fascinating as the surroundings, and it’s a must-visit destination if you’re ever on the east coast of Tasmania.

9. Hidden Beach, Mexico

Hidden beach in the Marietas Islands at the mexican Pacific
TomásSánchez / Adobe Stock

This beach on Marieta Island in Mexico is hidden by name and nature. To reach it, you must first pass through a water tunnel, where you’ll be greeted with a vast, sandy cavern with turquoise waters.

Legend states that the Mexican military is responsible for creating this unique, secret beach. As the Marieta Islands are uninhabited, they made for a suitable testing site for dropping bombs. Such beauty rarely comes from destruction.

The beach and the islands are only accessible by an hour-long boat ride from the coast of Puerto Vallarta. Try this Marieta Islands sailing day trip, but be aware that bracelets to access the beach must be purchased separately and in advance.

10. Negril Seven Mile Beach, Jamaica

Oceanview of Negril Seven Mile Beach, Jamaica
Stuart Jameson / ViaTravelers

I recently rented a car and drove the full circumference of Jamaica. Upon reaching the West Coast, I had to stop at one of the most stunning beaches in the world.

As the name suggests, Negril’s beach stretches for seven miles of brilliant sand. It’s a joy to take your shoes off and simply stroll as far as you desire, maybe stopping at any of the many beach bars, cafes and refreshment stands along the way.

There are plenty of resorts and properties to choose from, including overwater bungalows and resorts with golf courses on-site. But I stayed at the colorful Judy House Cottages & Rooms, which will make you feel like you’re in the heart of the jungle.

11. Zlatni Rat (Golden Cape), Croatia

Famous Zlatni rat beach in Bol, Island Brac, Croatia
Eva Bocek / Shutterstock

Located near Bol on the southern coast of Brac Island, Zlatni Rat is one of Croatia’s best places to visit. In high season, it seems like all of Europe has chosen to spend their beach trips here, but it never seems too overcrowded.

Glance at the photo above, and you’ll understand why it’s also called the Golden Horn. It has a unique shape that stretches around half a kilometer perpendicularly out into the crystal clear Adriatic Sea.

Island hopping is a popular activity in these parts, and this boat tour from Split takes in four of the best in the region. This includes a stop at Zlatni Rat, where you can admire one of the most unusual beach destinations.

12. Maya Bay, Thailand

Panorama amazed nature scenic landscape Maya Bay with boat for traveler
day2505 / Shutterstock

Following its titular role in a Leonardo Di Caprio film, Maya Bay was subsequently ruined by tourism. After a four-year hiatus that hoped to reduce its environmental destruction, the Thai government has recently reopened this stunning paradise.

Located on Phi Phi Leh in the Indian Ocean, there’s a clear reason why it was the real star of the 2000 movie The Beach. On this breathtaking tropical island, Maya Bay is the centerpiece.

Formerly one of the world’s most pristine beaches, it has suffered from over-tourism. If you go, remember to take only photographs and leave only footprints.

See Related: How to Plan a Trip to Thailand and Build an Itinerary

13. Hot Water Beach, New Zealand

Hot Water Beach in New Zealand
baoyan / Adobe Stock

For another memorable beach vacation, you should head to the Coromandel Peninsula on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Hot Water Beach is aptly named, as it has heated mineral springs bubbling under the beach.

On certain parts of the beach at low tide, you can dig down to access the hot waters below. Sitting in a sandy heated spa that you’ve created has got to be up there with the most unique beach vacations.

Local cafes rent out spades if you haven’t brought your own, but be aware it can get busy at times, and swimming is risky thanks to strong undercurrents. Head to nearby Cathedral Cove early in the morning for a quieter, more breathtaking experience.

14. Anse Source D’Argent, Seychelles

Anse Source d'Argent beach, La Digue Island, Seyshelles
dibrova / Shutterstock

Anse Source D’Argent is a dream destination for travelers looking for something off the beaten path. Found on La Digue in the Seychelles, it’s part of an archipelago with over 110 tropical islands, boasting some of the most secluded beaches.

You might find it strangely familiar even if you’ve never been to Anse Source D’Argent. That’s because its sugar white sand regularly turns up in movies, commercials, and advertising campaigns.

Swimming and snorkeling in its pristine waters is a popular pastime, but simply taking in the dream-like vistas is paradise on Earth. Don’t be surprised if you hear someone shouting “WILSON!” at the top of their lungs.

15. Aharen Beach, Japan

Aharen Beach on the island of Tokashiki in Okinawa, Japan
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

Aharen Beach is located on Tokashiki Island, Japan’s largest Kerama Island. It takes a one-hour boat trip from Okinawa, with a 15-minute drive from Tokashiki Port.

Snorkeling and scuba diving are king here, and you can get up close and personal with tropical fish and other marine life in its crystal-clear waters. The region is famous for its green sea turtles in particular.

This day trip from Naha is a great way to visit the beach with a cruise included. There are plenty of bed & breakfast options if you prefer to stay a little longer in paradise.

16. Paradise Beach, Mykonos, Greece

Aerial drone, bird's eye view photo of iconic pool club in famous Super Paradise beach, Mykonos
Aerial-motion / Shutterstock

Mykonos is an (in)famous destination for letting loose. If you’re looking for an unforgettable (or possibly forgettable) wild party experience in Greece, look no further. With its lively nightlife and energetic atmosphere, Paradise Beach stands out as one of the most sought-after vacation spots in the country and never fails to captivate revelers.

Situated on the mesmerizing island of Mykonos, this is one of the best things to do in Greece if you’re looking for a rowdy beach vacation and some serious fun in the sun. What happens in Mykonos stays in Mykonos.

17. Lover’s Beach, Mexico

Aerial view of Lovers Beach at Lands End, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Frederick Millett / Shutterstock

Only accessed by longboat, Lover’s Beach in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, is a hidden gem that’s perfect for romantic beach vacations. Also known as Playa de Los Amantes, it’s the ideal place to take a loved one.

Divorce Beach is located next door, and these secluded sandy shores sit between craggy granite rock formations. Lover’s Beach is the better of the two and provides visitors with some of the top swimming and sunbathing in the country.

You’ll need to take a water taxi from nearby Medano Beach, but you can also get there with a glass-bottomed boat tour. Leave early in the morning to get the best experience, as Lover’s Beach closes at 4 PM.

18. Poplar Beach, Half Moon Bay, California

Poplar Beach in Half Moon Bay
Alex Kroeger / ViaTravelers

California’s Half Moon Bay is made up of several excellent beaches. Located a short drive from San Jose, there is much to see and do in the area.

Poplar Beach is one of the most…ahem…popular options and is a big hit for sunbathing, shore fishing, horseriding, and picnicking. Surfers should head to nearby Mavericks Beach for its legendary waves and iconic surf shops.

Hiking the scenic bluffs alongside Poplar Beach is a great way to view the stunning sunsets, while Half Moon Bay offers plenty of boutique hotels to make your stay unforgettable. The Seal Cove Inn is an ideal choice.

19. Kuta Beach, Indonesia

Colorful beach umbrellas and pillows in Kuta, Bali
Chris Howey / Shutterstock

Kuta Beach is located on the hugely popular vacation spot of Bali, Indonesia. Famous for the powerful waves that crash its golden sands, it’s one of the best spots for surfing.

Surfing lessons are available if you wish to learn how to ride the waves, but admiring the stunning sunsets from the comfort of a beach lounger is a perfectly acceptable way to spend your vacation.

Kuta Beach attracts its fair share of holidaymakers thanks to its plentiful beach bars, unique accommodations, and exceptional restaurants. It’s cheap and cheerful, but I advise you to steer clear if you don’t like the crowds.

20. Grace Bay Beach, Turks and Caicos Islands

Grace Bay in Turks and Caicos
JeanYves / Adobe Stock

Located on the Turks and Caicos Islands archipelago, Grace Bay Beach is a Caribbean paradise in North Atlantic waters. Frequently voted as the number-one beach destination in the world, it’s not hard to see why.

This award-winning beach is easily accessible, and famous for its proximity to world-class luxury resorts, hotels, and restaurants. Yet it never seems overcrowded, which ensures it’s a better choice than many other Caribbean beach options.

Sheltered by an offshore coral reef, Grace Bay’s calm azure-blue waters are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and other water sports. Stay at the Sibonne Beach Hotel for the best views and amenities to maximize your getaway.

21. Boulders Beach, South Africa

Penguin Colony at Boulders Beach, Cape Town
Pocholo Calapre / Shutterstock

You might not be alone if you visit Boulders Beach in South Africa. The white sands are as popular with African penguins as they are with tourists. A colony of the birds settled here in the early 1980s, and they have since become a protected tourist attraction.

The beach comes from the granite boulders surrounding the region’s coastal inlets. Located in Simonstown, it’s a 45-minute drive from Cape Town, on the edge of the Table Mountain National Park. Aside from the penguins, the area is teeming with wildlife, and exploring the beach rock pools will be particularly enjoyable for kids.

22. Sao Beach, Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam

Seascape with tropical palms on beautiful Sao sandy beach in Phu Quoc island, Vietnam
Huy Thoai / Shutterstock

Phu Quoc Island belongs to Vietnam but is located a short distance off the coast of Cambodia. Sitting in the warm blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand, it’s one of Southeast Asia’s best beach destinations.

With white sand beaches, palm trees, and tropical seas, Sao Beach is arguably the most popular choice when visiting these shores. Yet its remote location ensures it’s never too overcrowded.

You can hire a motorbike or scooter to get there or jump on this South of Phu Quoc highlights tour if you want to take things super easy. I wouldn’t blame you, as riding a scooter in Southeast Asia scares me senseless.

23. Carmel Beach, California

Carmel Beach Skyline

Considered one of the best beaches in the US to visit, the white sands of Carmel Beach are punctuated with cypress trees. It’s shouldered by Carmel-By-The-Sea, with the country’s top beach towns.

One of the most popular beach destinations to take a furry friend, Carmel Beach is a dog-friendly spot that’s perfect for morning strolls. Go in mid-September when all the family can enjoy the legendary sandcastle contest. Inland, the nearby Carmel Valley is famous for its local wine, and you can enjoy this wine-tasting tour to sample some of the region’s best varieties.

24. Byron Bay, Australia

Aerial view of The Pass at Byron Bay
Darren Tierney / Shutterstock

Looking for a McDonald’s while on your beach vacation? Don’t go to Byron Bay. Known for its Australian counter-culture, this close-knit community rejects big corporations and embraces a more spiritual lifestyle.

The region is popular with surfers, hippies, artists, and musicians, and strives for an eco-friendly, sustainable ethos. It’s also a festival hub, and annual live music events are well attended throughout the year.

Try a sea kayak tour with dolphins, or learn to ride the waves with this one-day surfing course. Either way, if you’re searching for a chilled-out, laid-back vibe to the point of being horizontal, Byron Bay is the place for you.

25. Puka Beach, Philippines

Puka white sand beach on Boracay island, Philippines
Tatiana Nurieva / Shutterstock

Lined with coconut palm trees, Puka Beach in the Phillippines features a lush, tropical forest that borders its white sandy shores. Located on Boracay Island, the region is known for its stellar resorts, recreational activities, and, of course, some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. It’s also home to Boracay’s flying foxes – an endangered species of fruit bat.

This island and beach hopping tour will take you around the best locations on Boracay, which includes a stop at Puka Beach. Again, if you are visiting, keep your impact to a minimum to slow down the environmental damage of over-tourism.

See Related: Festivals in the Philippines

26. La Concha, Spain

View of the bay of La Concha in Spain
BAHDANOVICH ALENA / Shutterstock

La Concha is a lovely beach located on the northern coast of Spain. As part of the city of Donostia-San Sebastian, its lush hillsides, white sand, and crystal clear waters make it one of the best urban beaches. Swimming, snorkeling, and other activities will keep you busy and entertained throughout your trip, but spectacular views await anyone willing to hike further afield.

Nearby, you’ll find the beautiful old town of San Sebastian. Aside from the historic buildings, it offers great restaurants, cafes, and hotels that ensure La Concha is considered one of the best beach destinations in Europe.

27. Pink Sand Beach, The Bahamas

Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world are located in the Caribbean, and the Bahamas has its fair share of them. We’ve chosen Pink Sand Beach, as it offers something a little different as a beach vacation spot.

Here, you’ll find three miles of pink sand, so colored because of the tiny crushed seashells of microscopic organisms. Horseriding is a popular activity here, and riding in the surf is a special experience.

One of the quieter beaches on our list, this is a great relaxing spot. Rarely ever overcrowded, a visit to the Pink Sand Beach can feel like you’re on your private beach in the heart of the Caribbean.

28. Clearwater Beach, Florida

Beautiful View on Hotels and Resorts on Clearwater Beach, Florida
Artiom Photo/ Shuttestock

Sheltered on the west coast of Florida’s panhandle, Clearwater is never too far away from being considered the top beach spot in the US. Known for its warm gulf climate, laid-back crowd, and blazing sunsets, visitors flock to its luxury resorts every year.

If you’re a beachgoer who loves the festival vibe, Clearwater offers much. The nightlife is jumping, with street performers, craft vendors, and beachside dining aplenty. Up there, with the best beach resorts in Florida, it’s as lively as stunning.

One of the best activities is a dolphin-watching tour, while the calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico allow for paddleboarding, jet skiing, and parasailing. But don’t miss a sunset cruise for incredible views when the sun goes down.

29. Laguna Beach, California

Aerial view of Laguna Beach in California
lulejt / Shutterstock

Located between Los Angeles and San Diego, there are so many things to see and do at Laguna Beach you might not ever want to leave. This coastal region of Orange County is known for its coves, ocean bluffs, gorgeous beaches, and sea caves.

A number of resorts are located along rocky coastlines, perfect for romantic couples or families who want to spend their vacations at the seaside together. Laguna Beach is also home to a thriving art community and features more than 900 galleries in the area.

A popular spot for riding some Pacific Ocean waves is where you can take a surfing lesson with a pro instructor. Capri Laguna on the Beach, a boutique hotel on the powdery white sand, is one of the top options for accommodation.

30. Diani Beach, Kenya

Idyllic beach landscape in Diani beach, Kenya, Africa
Nick N A / Shutterstock

Consistently voted as Africa’s best beach, Diani Beach sits on the coast of Kenya, washed by the waters of the Indian Ocean. Aside from the beauty of the surroundings, it’s famous for being a watersports and activity hub.

Windsurfing, paragliding, scuba-diving, kayaking, kitesurfing, jet-skiing, and incredible snorkeling opportunities are available. Should you wish to turn inland, Diani is also the base for many safari companies.

For an underwater safari, try this glass-bottom boat tour, including snorkeling equipment if you want to get up close and personal with the marine life.

31. Starfish Beach, Panama

Tropical Starfish Beach above waterline and a group of starfish underwater
Damsea / Adobe Stock

As you might expect, Starfish Beach has lots of starfish. Located around 15 miles from the popular surfing/backpacking/beach town of Bocas del Toro, be prepared to share the golden sands with multiple echinoderms.

Known locally as Playa de Estrellas, its famous inhabitants are immensely popular with visitors. But beach lovers will still enjoy the immaculate waterfront and crystal clear waters lapping the sands.

You can take a 45-minute bus to the area or jump on this speed boat tour from Bocas to explore Starfish Beach and other islands. The finest way to view the starfish is by snorkeling, but remember to look and not touch.

32. Whitehaven Beach, Australia

Aerial view of Whitehaven Beach, Australia
Coral_Brunner / Adobe Stock

Part of the famous Whitsunday Islands off the Queensland coast of Australia, Whitehaven Beach is a secluded tropical paradise. It’s one of the whitest beaches in the world, so you’ll need a good pair of sunglasses here.

Whitehaven Beach consists of 98% pure silica, which doesn’t retain heat. Walking on a bright surface without burning your feet is a joy.

Try this Whitsundays catamaran sailing tour which includes snorkeling and a delicious BBQ lunch. If you’d prefer not to set foot on a boat, check out this article on the best beaches on the East Coast of Australia that aren’t on islands.

33. Long Beach, Koh Lanta, Thailand

Beach and fishing boat, koh Lanta, Thailand
Aleksandr Ozerov / Shutterstock

If you’re a little jaded with the tourists at Phi Phi, Koh Samui, and Phuket, try Koh Lanta instead. While still attracting its fair share of the crowd, it’s not as busy as some of Thailand’s more popular islands.

Located in the Strait of Malacca, Koh Lanta is famous for its picture-perfect coastline, pleasant weather, lush rainforests, and secluded setting. There are several golden beaches, but Long Beach is arguably the most pleasing.

Aside from Koh Lanta’s tropical shores, it also offers an eco-paradise ripe for exploring. Try this mangrove kayak tour for some exotic wildlife spotting. And don’t miss our full guide to visiting Thailand to get the most out of your trip.

34. Coligny Beach Park, South Carolina

Coligny Beach Park Scenery
Margaret.Wiktor / Shutterstock

One of the best beaches on the East Coast, Coligny Beach Park, is located in Hilton Head, South Carolina. A stone’s throw from Savannah, Georgia, it’s a popular destination for weekend breaks and family vacations.

An oceanfront park sitting right on the Atlantic, it’s served by Coligny Plaza. This seaside town will provide you with all the beach supplies and facilities a good vacation requires.

Families, in particular, will love the creature comforts this destination offers, and its being so well-maintained ensures its rightful place on our list of the most beautiful beach vacations.

FAQs

What are the most popular beaches in the United States?

The most popular beaches in the United States include Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, Miami Beach and Clearwater in Florida, Huntington Beach and Venice Beach in California, and Kaanapali Beach in Maui, Hawaii. Remember – popular doesn’t always mean it’s the right vacation for you.

What are the best family beach vacations?

Family beach vacation destinations include places where lots of activities are offered. Look for beaches that offer water sports, horseriding, hiking, and other interesting pastimes to keep kids entertained.

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