The 30 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World
"I need a good reason to book a beach vacation," said no one ever. Whether you're looking for a relaxing destination on an island or in a city; prefer white, pink, or black sand; or just want to dip your toes in some crystal clear waters, we've got you covered. Here are 30 of the most beautiful beaches in the world, ready to give you a sun-kissed welcome.
Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island, Australia: This beach is over four miles long and otherworldly beautiful with its sand and sea swirls. The bright white sand, comprised of 98 percent silica, is the purest in the world, and it doesn't retain heat, so you can sink your toes in even on the hottest of days.
Pink Sand Beach, Harbour Island, Bahamas: This beach on one of the smaller islands of the Bahamas has over three miles of calm waters and light pink sand, which gets its color from broken coral pieces and empty shells of foraminifera (small marine organisms).
Dreamland Beach, Bali: Bali has increased in popularity due to the Eat, Pray, Love effect, but Dreamland Beach on the Bukit peninsula is still worth a trip; it has towering limestone cliffs and shore breaks that attract surfers from all over the world.
Horseshoe Bay Beach, Bermuda: This popular beach on the southern shore of Bermuda is named after its curved shape. Along with gentle lapping waves and powdery sand, it also has unique rock formations, hidden caves, and sheltered coves.
Matira Beach, Bora Bora: Matira Beach is the idyllic South Pacific beach — emerald waters, lush greenery, soft white sand — and perfect for some R&R or activities like diving among manta rays and sharks.
Baia do Sancho, Brazil: This secluded beach is located on Fernando de Noronha, a volcanic archipelago off the northeastern coast of Brazil. Access is via natural stairway down a cliff, and with its coral reef and resident dolphins, it's a diver's dream.
Zlatni Rat, Brač, Croatia: The beach is referred to as the Golden Cape and forms a V-shape stretch around a green pine grove and the remnants of a Roman villa. The beach here has white pebbles instead of sand, and the surrounding wind and waves create the ideal environment for a number of water sports like windsurfing and kayaking.
Playa Sirena, Cayo Largo, Cuba: Now that travel from the US to Cuba has opened up, there's no reason not to visit this resort island in Cuba. If you get bored of the powdery sand and calm waters, there's also a watersports center and an area to swim with dolphins.
Playa Rincón, Dominican Republic: This remote beach on Samaná Peninsula is relatively hard to get to, but the view is worth it once you do. The secluded stretch is surrounded by warm turquoise waters, a coconut forest, and 600-meter cliffs of Cape Cabrón.
Bahía Gardner, Galápagos, Ecuador: Española Island, at four million years old, is one of the oldest islands in the Galápagos and is home to a number of endemic species that were studied by Charles Darwin. You'll have to share this amazing beach with some non-human residents, namely sea lions, lizards, and tropical birds.
Natadola Beach, Fiji: This white sand beach on the Fiji's main island of Viti Levu is a South Pacific paradise where you can snorkel, surf, and go horseback riding.
Les Calanques de Cassis, France: This tiny beach in the south of France is only accessible by boat or by foot. Once there, enjoy the clear Mediterranean waters enclosed by tall cliffs, snorkel among fish, and marvel at the calanques, narrow inlets that are developed in limestone.
Elafonissi Beach, Crete, Greece: Elafonissi is an almost mile-long islet and protected nature reserve off the shore of Crete. When the turquoise waters are shallow enough, you can wade through the lagoon from Crete to Elafonissi's pink and white sandy beach.
Vik Beach, Iceland: Iceland may be most famous for the Blue Lagoon, but Vik (or Reynisfjara) Beach is another must-visit location. This isn't a beach for relaxing, but the dramatic landscape of black sand, basalt sea stacks, and large crashing waves are definitely a sight worth seeing.
Yonaha Maehama Beach, Miyako Island, Japan: Most people associate Japan with the hustle and bustle of city life. But if you head to the southern islands of the Okinawa Prefecture, you'll find relaxing, picture-perfect beaches like Yonaha Maehama Beach. The mild temps allow for year-round watersports and sunset-watching.
Spiaggia Rosa, Sardinia, Italy: This beach on the tiny island of Budelli in northern Sardinia has pink sand, which gets its unique color from shells and coral. It's closed to tourists because people were stealing the pink sand, but you can still admire the beach and the clear waters from afar on a boat.
Diani Beach, Kenya: You probably don't usually associate Kenya with beaches, but this white sandy shore on the Indian Ocean may convince you otherwise. You can spot monkeys playing nearby, explore the coral reef, kite surf, or hire a camel for a beach stroll.
Playa del Amor, Marietas Islands, Mexico: Love Beach, also called Hidden Beach, is tucked away inside a cave on the uninhabited Marietas Islands. The beach is only accessible during low tide, and the hole in the roof of the cave provides a natural skylight for a unique beach experience.
Hot Water Beach, New Zealand: Years of volcanic activity along the Coromandel Peninsula created reservoirs of hot water under the surface of this beach. During low tide, the natural mineral water seeps up through the sand, and beachgoers can dig a hole and relax in their own personal hot springs spa.
El Nido Beach, Palawan, Philippines: The town of El Nido, in the northern part of island Palawan, is known for its white sand beaches. There are also plenty of limestone cliffs, coral reefs, and caves to explore.
La Chiva Beach, Vieques, Puerto Rico: If you drive through a wildlife refuge on the small island of Vieques, you can find the peaceful sandy stretch of La Chiva, or Blue Beach (the US Navy controls two-thirds of the island and named all the beaches after colors).
Anse Source D'Argent, Seychelles: Seychelles is a 115-island archipelago in the Indian Ocean, so it's no doubt that there are gorgeous beaches to be found in every direction. One of the most popular ones is Anse Source D'Argent on the island La Digue. With its crystal clear waters, pristine white sand, and towering granite cliffs, it's been the star of many commercials.
La Concha Beach, San Sebastián, Spain: This crescent-shaped urban beach is nestled on the Bay of La Concha in the middle of the cosmopolitan city of San Sebastian, known for its high number of Michelin-star restaurants.
Coffee Bay, Wild Coast, South Africa: Located on the Eastern Cape of South Africa, this town was named in 1893 when a ship full of coffee beans ran aground. The secluded beaches here, surrounded by rolling hills and rocky cliffs, are ideal for both sunbathing and surfing.
Wineglass Bay, Tasmania: Off the coast of Australia on Tasmania's Freycinet Peninsula, this beach is the ideal place to enjoy sailing, rock-climbing, or taking in the gorgeous scenery, which includes pink and gray granite mountains rising from the sea.
Sunrise Beach, Koh Lipe, Thailand: Thailand is a beach lover's paradise; after all, Leo DiCaprio's The Beach was filmed here. Sunrise Beach sits on the east side of Koh Lipe, and there is great snorkeling in the adjacent clear waters. Remote and romantic Sunset Beach is on the other side of the island, a perfect way to unwind at the end of the day.
Grace Bay Beach, Turks and Caicos: Turks and Caicos' most popular beach has miles of powder-fine sand and is also part of the Princess Alexandra National Park. There are various hotels and restaurants located all along the beachfront, and the coral reef allows for great snorkeling and diving.
Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, Hawaii, US: The Big Island's Punaluʻu Beach has a rocky shoreline and striking black sand caused by years of volcanic activity. However, the dark sand doesn't deter the endangered sea turtles that like to sunbathe on the shore.
Papakōlea Beach, Hawaii, US: This green sand beach is located in a bay formed by a volcanic cone that erupted 50,000 years ago. The unique color of the sand is due to an olive-green mineral called olivine, which is left behind when magma cools.
Trunk Bay, St. John, US Virgin Islands: Trunk Bay is part of the Virgin Islands National Park, and as a result, it's one of the best-preserved beaches in the Caribbean. Visitors can snorkel along the Underwater Trail and catch a glimpse of coral reefs, exotic fish, and turtles.
(Photos via Getty)
Lesley Chen is a California native who writes about travel, health/fitness, and other lifestyle topics. She has a serious case of RBF and exercises mainly to balance out an aggressive candy addiction.