What makes a beach truly great? Whether you’re looking for a place to relax, catch a gnarly wave, or party all night long, this list of the top 15 beaches in the world has you covered. From Brazil to Italy, scenic beaches are tucked away in all corners of the world. As for accommodations, instead of an overpriced oceanfront resort, stay at one of many beach vacation rentals for the most privacy and flexibility. Don’t forget to pack beach toys and boogie boards before you head out to the shore!
1. Amed Beach, Karangasem, Bali, Indonesia
Bali has a lot to offer, but its beaches are by far the island’s main attraction. White sand and turquoise blue waters are the norm at this heaven on earth, and most of the resorts have direct access to the beach. If you’re staying in a vacation rental instead, you can still indulge in luxurious spa treatments and decadent cuisine. Looking for more adventure? The island’s many temples and hiking paths up to an active volcano in Kintamani will not disappoint. Amed Beach and the surrounding area is filled with coral and multiple shipwrecks, so it’s a big hit with scuba divers. It also provides a more authentic look at local Bali life since salt mining and fishing are still incredibly prevalent.
2. Tikehau Island, French Polynesia
This postcard-worthy stretch of beach is only a 55-minute flight from Papeete in Tahiti, but you’ll feel like you’re worlds away. The white and pink sand beaches are almost too breathtaking to be true, and the crystal clear waters are also prime for snorkeling and scuba diving. The amazing marine life includes eagle rays, schools of barracudas and tuna, grey reef sharks, marine turtles, and dolphins. Only about 500 Tahitians call this island home, so the only thing you’ll find here are peace and quiet.
3. Blue Lagoon, Ölüdeniz, Turkey
This beach is a national marine sanctuary, so you won’t find any mega-resort eyesores blocking your view. It goes almost without saying that the diving here is first rate. There are some fascinating caves full of marine life and near-limitless visibility. Fethiye is only about 10 miles away and a great place to stay nearby. You can easily get to the beach by dolmus (mini bus) or an Ölüdeniz taxi.
4. Amalfi Coast, Campania, Italy
This stretch of Italian coastline attracts an average of five million visitors each year. This UNESCO World Heritage site covers 34 miles of majestic terrain that’s beautiful enough to stop you in your tracks. The 13 seaside towns that make up the coast are connected via the SS163 highway, which is considered one of the most scenic drives in the world. Each town has their strengths, but we recommend Positano for its pastel-colored chic boutiques and fine dining or Praiano for its secluded shorelines.
5. Bathsheba Beach, Bathsheba, Barbados
This shoreline is best described as rugged, wild, and untouched. It’s a favorite among photographers and surfers for the “Soup Bowl” waves that crash into the white sand and huge boulders creating a scenic, foamy, natural phenomenon. There are strong undercurrents, so swimming can be dangerous, but the white waters of Bathsheba are rumored to be rich in minerals, giving you the appearance of youth and vitality.
6. The Baths, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
At Virgin Gorda, perfectly smooth, granite boulders back up against the palm tree covered mountain. In between is a mystical hideaway full of secluded grottos and some of the best photo ops in the Caribbean. The protected waters are perfect for swimming and snorkeling, especially since mooring buoys protect the reef from anchor damage. Don’t visit in the winter though since strong ocean swells can occur preventing use of the mooring buoys and access to the beach from the sea. Swimming is also discouraged due to strong currents.
7. North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
It doesn’t get much more iconic than North Shore. Known for its world class surf breaks, the perfect waves are ideal for everyone ranging from beginners to world-class professionals. You don’t have to be a surfer to enjoy a visit to North Shore. Watching the world’s best surfers at any of the professional contests is a unique show you’ll never forget. While Hawaii is beautiful any time of year, come between September and April for the best surf breaks daily.
8. Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Located on the western shore of the 75-square-mile island, the whole stretch of this 5.5 mile-long beach is public property. That means you can visit no matter if you’re staying in a beach side hotel or nearby vacation rental. Grab lunch at an ocean-side restaurant, stumble into a volleyball game with locals, take Jet Skis out further down the beach, and top it off with some snorkeling in Cemetery Reef.
9. Navagio Beach, Zákynthos Island, Greece
This spectacular crescent beach is accessible only by boat, but the trek is worth is for the striking beauty of the cove’s white sands and the Ionian Sea’s azure water. Also known as the Shipwreck Beach, Navagio is famous for the rusted hull of a freighter that ran aground here in 1980. Shipwreck Beach is definitely the most popular place on the island, so try to take an early morning tour to avoid the crowds.
10. Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
There’s always a party happening in Rio, and the beaches are no different. This two and a half mile stretch of sand is pretty iconic and can attract hundreds of visitors at any time. Flanked with the mountains in the background and high-rise hotels in the foreground, the bustling, mosaic-covered promenade is perfect for people watching. As night falls, stay off the sands and stick to the well-lit promenade as there is crime in the area.
11. Horeshoe Bay Beach, Southampton Parish, Bermuda
Thanks to its blush pink sand and clear blue waters, Horeshoe Bay Beach is definitely one of the more popular beaches on the island. There is, however, a hidden secret, Port Royal Cove. The shallow water is perfect for young kids and the dramatic rock formations will make your jaw drop. Nearby Spicelands Equestrian Centre even offers trail rides down to the private cove, which is located in part of South Shore Park in Southampton Parish.
12. Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands
You won’t find the light aqua water in Turks and Caicos anywhere else in the world. Found off the northeast coast of Providenciales, Grace Bay is a pristine beach with no rocks, seaweed, or pollution. Parasailing is one of the top ways to see the beach, but it’s just as spectacular from the water, so rent a little sailboat and explore it from both angles. In fact, you can partake in any other water sport imaginable but the snorkeling trail, Coral Gardens, has so much tropical marine life, it should be at the top of your to-do list.
13. Old Orchard Beach, Maine
Tucked away on Saco Bay on the Atlantic coast of Maine, this quaint seaside destination has remained a prominent New England attraction for well over a century. Old Orchard Beach boasts a seven-mile stretch of shoreline, as well as a historic wooden boardwalk and seasonal waterfront amusement park that originally opened in 1902. Round out a fantastic beach trip by swinging by a clam shack or the iconic Pier French Fries, a snack shack serving poutine, fried dough, hot dogs, and other comfort food classics.
14. The Concha, San Sebastian, Spain
This most visited beach in San Sebastian is also the most classic and most photographed for good reason. Iconic Concha Beach is unique thanks to its landscape and fine white sand. The Basque Country’s timeless beauty also offers world-class dining, and other cultural activities like flamenco and bullfighting as well as pintxo bar hopping. The most interesting thing about San Sebastian is its ability to maintain a small-town feel so come here if you’re tired of the crowds in Madrid or Barcelona.
15. Orient Bay Beach, St. Martin, St. Maarten
Not everyone wants to go to the beach to relax, and at Orient Bay Beach, plenty of bars and clubs dot the entire stretch. It’s only about two miles from the airport, so getting here is easy. Hitting the beach here is fun too. If you’re daring, head to the southern end of the stretch where there’s an area for nudists. There’s also parasailing, windsurfing and live music. The only thing this beach isn’t good for is swimming because there’s a strong undertow and raucous waves. Try northwestern Friar’s Bay if you want to swim.
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