Destination Guides

These are the 15 most beautiful beaches in the world

Nothing beats a sea view, surrounded by golden sand or incredible rock formations, and the crash of the waves at your feet. Whether you’re looking for your next trip inspiration or some pure and simple escapism, these are our top 15 beaches around the world, with some well-known favourites and a few that are flying under the mainstream radar (for now). Ready to start planning your next beach getaway?  

1. Praia de Baleeira, Algarve, Portugal

Framed by steep cliffs and boasting golden sandy shores that meet the emerald green Atlantic Ocean, Praia de Baleeira forms part of the Algarve’s Sarges Peninsula. A lesser visited beach than others in the Algarve due to its semi wild nature and rocky shores, this spot is nevertheless one of the most picturesque in all of the region. Privacy is easy to find, so head here with a good book for an afternoon spent gazing over the tumbling waves of the Atlantic.

Discover Praia de Baleeria for yourself on Best of Portugal.

praia de baleeira, algarve, portugal

 

2. Cabo San Juan, Tayrona National Park, Colombia

If you’ve ever dreamed of being marooned Robinson Crusoe style on a deserted island, Cabo San Juan on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast is the next best thing. Comprised of two small curved bays that are an almost mirror image of each other, this remote and utterly paradisiacal beach can only be reached by hiking through the rainforest of Tayrona National Park. Spot monkeys, birds and insects along the way and cool off with swim breaks at one of the many dreamy beaches before reaching your final destination. Intrepid explorers can spend the night sleeping in hammocks listening to the waves, whilst a day trip is also easily manageable. Avoid visiting in high season (December and January) to skip the crowds who have already caught on, and pay attention to the no swimming signs.

cabo san juan, tayrona national park, colombia

 

3. Cintsa Beach, Eastern Cape, South Africa

It’s not exactly news that South Africa boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but Cintsa Beach seals the deal. Part of the Eastern Cape’s collection of untouched, untamed coastline, Cintsa is just a short distance from East London’s popular beaches but a world apart in terms of what it offers. Divided by a river estuary, the east side of the beach is our particular favourite, offering 15 kilometres of sandy beach just begging to be explored. Here, surfers play in the waves and couples stroll hand in hand, whilst dolphins can be also regularly be spotted offshore. 

Discover Cintsa for yourself on Best of South Africa.

cinsta beach, eastern cape, south africa

 

4. Lučice, Petrovac, Montenegro

With only 100 kilometres from one end of the coast to the other, Montenegro’s coastline may be small but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in beauty. Mediterranean vistas and perfect weather come thick and fast in this country, with Lučice Beach in the coastal resort of Petrovac ranking highly amongst them. Set around the headland from the main beach, Lučice is set against a backdrop of cypress trees and is the kind of Mediterranean hideaway you dream of in the depths of a winter.

Sold on Montenegro? Find out more about this rapidly emerging destination on Trafalgar’s Balkan Adventure.

lucice beach, petrovac, montenegro

 

5. Bacalar, Riviera Mayo, Mexico

Think Mexico’s beach scene is all about Tulum or Playa del Carmen? Bacalar is here to change your mind. Whilst not actually a beach, this inland lagoon is so beautiful we hope you’ll forgive us for finding a loophole. The Laguna de los Siete Colores is perhaps one of the most unforgettable sights in all of Mexico, and one of the country’s worst kept secrets. A white limestone bottom and deep underwater cenotes create the lagoon’s seven shades of blue, which are best explored by taking a boat over to Pirates Canal. Here, you can lounge in the warm waters and smother yourself in mineral rich mud before heading back to shore to explore the pretty town, itself one of Mexico’s ‘Pueblo Magicos’.

bacalar, riviera mayo, mexico

You might also like – Why our oceans and beaches need us NOW

6. Radhanagar Beach, Havelock Island, India

If paradise is a place on earth, it’s probably Radhanagar Beach. Named one of the top 7 best beaches in the world by Time Magazine, this beach is still (incredibly) relatively unknown to those living outside of India. All pure white sands and impossibly clear water lined by lush forest and swaying palms, this spot is picture postcard perfect, and then some. The most popular beach on Havelock Island, those that do head here tend to congregate around the entrance. For your own private slice of paradise, walk a few hundred metres either left or right of the main section, settle in and enjoy what will likely be one of the best days of your life.

radhanagar beach, havelock island, india

 

7. Holywell Bay, Cornwall, UK

With over 400 beaches to choose from, it’s little wonder Cornwall is one of the UK’s best loved summer destinations. Beachside fish and chips, rich Cornish ice cream and sleepy fishing villages all epitomise this corner of the world, so finding a quiet spot on a sunny summer day can sometimes be a little tricky. Not entirely undiscovered but still offering peace and tranquility, Holywell Bay is a strong contender for Cornwall’s best beach. Located 3 miles southwest of Newquay, this spot has a particularly interesting history due to the naturally formed well that drips down into a sea cave. For centuries pilgrims flocked here to cure their ailments with the well’s sacred spring water, whilst today people visit to admire the mineral rich walls of the cave which, when lit, shine green, red and yellow. Oh, and the beach isn’t half bad either…

Dreaming of Cornish clotted cream and all things British? Get inspired by our Best of Devon & Cornwall trip…

holywell bay, cornwall, uk

 

8. Bahia Creek, Rio Negro Province, Patagonia, Argentina

Better known for fine wines and gauchos than beaches, Argentina nevertheless may just surprise you. Located in Patagonia, the Rio Negro Province is a 130 mile coastal route that offers up some of the most untouched and perfect coastline in all of South America. Case in point? Bahia Creek, a spot that is located 60 miles southwest of Viedma and boasts 18 miles of coastline set between rolling sand dunes and towering cliffs. This beach is particularly unique due to its favourable weather conditions; the coastline is protected from the harsh Patagonian winds, whilst the warm waters come courtesy of tidal movements from Brazil. 

bahia creek, patagonia, argentina

 

9. Riddell Beach, Broome, Northern Australia

The Kimberley region in Western Australia is untamed wilderness and wild coastline at it’s very best, so it’s little wonder some of the most beautiful beaches in the world are located here. Broome is the coastal highlight for many, thanks to the rugged red cliffs that rise dramatically from the surrounding cobalt blue waters. Most head to gorgeous Cable Beach for their sun fix, but if you’re looking for a spot that’s a little less know, make a bee line for Riddell Beach. Located between Riddell Point and Gantheaume Point and only 8kms out of town, Riddell is particularly popular with walkers and photographers who journey here at low tide to try and get a peek of the dinosaur footprints exposed below Gantheaume Point.

riddell beach, broome, western australia

Find another hidden gem at The secret Portuguese beach you should visit this summer. 

1o. Phra Nang beach, Thailand

You’ll find Phra Nang Beach on the Railay Peninsula, an outcrop between Ao Nang and Krabi in southern Thailand that’s only accessible by boat. Known for its stunning views, it has crystal-clear turquoise waters, powdery white sand, and dramatic limestone cliffs that are reminiscent of Avatar’s floating islands. For the intrepid explorer, the sacred Princess Cave (also known as Phra Nang Cave) offers legends and stories among the  stalactites. Despite its popularity, Phra Nang maintains a peaceful atmosphere, thanks to its secluded location and limited access.

 

11. Whitehaven Beach, Queensland, Australia

Found on Whitsunday Island, Whitehaven Beach’s picture perfect pristine white sand is made up of 98% pure silica, meaning that it’s not only incredibly soft, but doesn’t retain heat making it easy to stroll on. With over 7km (4.3 miles) of beach to explore, shallow waters, and incredible snorkling, Whitehaven is part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, offering glimpses of vibrant marine life and coral formations. It’s accessible by boat, seeaplane, or even helicopter.

 

12. Grace Bay Beach, Turks and Caicos Islands

If it’s pristine waters you’re after, then you’ll love Grace Bay Beach on the island of Providenciales, in the Caribbean’s Turks and Caicos Islands. One of the country’s most popular islands with tourists, it’s also the third largest. Picture 7.5 miles (12km) of white sand, dazzling turquoise waters, and gentle lapping waves. Thanks to the direction of the wind, you’ll find little to no seaweed or rocks on the shore. It’s part of the Princess Alexandra National Park thanks to a barrier reef a mile offshore (the world’s third-largest coral reef), where you’ll be able to see some of the most incredible corals.

 

13. Hanalei Bay, Hawaii

You may recognise Hanalei Bay from the movies, featured in South Pacific in 1958 and, more recently, The Descendants in 2011 starring George Clooney. But locals knew of its charm long before then, and its beaches — Wai’oli, Hanalei Pavilion, and Black Pot — are framed by jade-colored mountains rising more than 4,000 feet high. The largest bay on the north shore of Kauaʻi island in Hawaii, in the summer it’s perfect for swimming and paddle boarding, while the winter season brings larger swells that attract keen surfers. 

You might also like: Surf’s Up: The 6 US Beaches With the Biggest Waves  

14. Copacabana, Brazil

An iconic one for the list, Copacabana is famous for good reason. Around 2.5 miles (4km) of soft sand, an unadulterated view of Sugarloaf Mountain, palm trees galore, plus samba rhythms and a lively party atmosphere to top it all off. It has a slightly vintage feel to it now, thanks in part to the mosaic beach promenade designed by landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx in 1970. Enjoy Rio de Janeiro’s social hub, with locals sunbathing and playing sports, and street vendors set with cold beer and caipirinhas.

 

15. Elafonissi Beach, Crete, Greece

A treat for the eyes, Elafonissi Beach flew under the radar until 2014 it was named one of the world’s top beaches. You’ll come for the pink sand, but stay for its warm waters, rare wildflowers, and striking rock formations. Connected to a small island by sandbars that disappear under 3 feet (less than 1 metre) of water at high tide, you’ll be able to walk on water, though as this a classified nature reserve, beach chairs and umbrellas are prohibited. You can still lounge in comfort on the main beach however, and enjoy some of the freshest seafood at the beachside tavernas. 

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