The World's 50 Best Beaches Gallery

Very often, an image of the beach is one of the first that comes to mind when one thinks of the word "vacation." Going to the beach is the ultimate way to relax; stretching out with a good book or a great beer on a towel or a chair as you take in the salty sea air and nice breeze. Beaches can offer great food, sweet waves, or even just a romantic getaway. With so many beaches around the world, however, there are bound to be some that are superior to others.

So what makes a good beach? It really depends on where you are and what you're looking for. A good beach doesn't necessarily mean a great place to swim. While curating this list, we considered which beaches stood out in terms of beauty, food scene, party scene, or the number of things to do. Some are often crowded in the summers, filled with tourists for obvious reasons, whereas others are relatively undiscovered but bucket-list-worthy all the same. If you're looking to bask in the sun and hit some waves, here are the 50 best beaches in the world.

Agonda Beach (Agonda, India)

Located in the southern part of the paradisaical state of Goa, India's Agonda Beach earns its place as one of the world's best beaches not only because of the gorgeous scenery here but because it's relatively undiscovered by tourists. Known as a nesting site for olive ridley sea turtles, Agonda isn't really a place for a nice swim as the waters can be a tad dangerous further out from the shore. Beachgoers prefer to relax on the warm sand or simply tread the shallower shoreline.

Anakena Beach (Easter Island, Chile)

Part of our island bucket list, Rapa Nui, or Easter Island as it's popularly known around the world, has a generally rocky terrain, so it may come as a surprise to some that one of its two small beaches rivals some of the greatest on the planet. Anakena Beach has white sand, coconut palm trees, and beautiful blue waters that create a picturesque escape that would look like any other beautiful beach if it weren't for the presence of moai, Easter Island's famous large-headed figures.

Anse Lazio (Praslin Island, Seychelles)

Anse Lazio is often lauded as one of the world's most beautiful beaches and its astonishingly clear blue waters and lush greenery mean it's not hard to see why. Big granite boulders surround the beach, a popular yet uncrowded destination with access to great restaurants and some decent snorkeling. Hurry and visit before it's too late; the Seychelles islands on which the beach lies are in danger of disappearing.

Baía do Sancho (Fernando de Noronha, Brazil)

Baía do Sancho, or Sancho Bay, is located on the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha off the coast of Brazil, and you have to take a boat to get there. Cliffs surround the bay, and when you're not taking to the gorgeously clear waters, you can climb up to take in a truly stunning view.

Cala Jondal (Ibiza, Balearic Islands)

With a serious party reputation, the Spanish island of Ibiza has risen in popularity as a destination over the past decade. Cala Jondal, however, is a pleasant beach retreat away from the large tourist crowds on the island. Green pine trees and red cliffs surround this beach, which has its fair share of restaurants and nightlife nearby.

Camps Bay Beach (Camps Bay, South Africa)

A suburb of Cape Town, Camps Bay turned into a great South African tourist destination thanks to the fantastic restaurant scene here as well as, of course, its beach. The two complement each other quite well, and in addition to swimming and body boarding, at night you'll find drum circles gathering on the shore.

Copacabana Beach (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Rio de Janeiro's famous Copacabana Beach is a bucket list destination for any beach lover. Although it's known for its party atmosphere and spring break friendliness, the beach also has plenty to offer in the way of its water, food scene, and bustling activity.

Doctor’s Cave Beach (Montego Bay, Jamaica)

Tourist-laden yet still-beautiful, Doctor's Cave Beach is a great spot for some summer sun in Montego Bay. While it can get pretty crowded during the day, this beach is a must-visit Jamaican destination, and you won't have to go far to grab a good bite at restaurants like the Sand Bar, which is right there on the shore.

Eagle Beach (Oranjestad, Aruba)

Aruba's famous soft, white sand is one of the reasons Eagle Beach made this list and it is beloved by both humans and sea turtles — four species of the latter nest their eggs here for hatching. Have a picnic in the shade or take to waves with extreme watersports, both popular activities on Eagle Beach.

El Nido (Palawan, Philippines)

The town of El Nido and its beaches are located on the island province of Palawan in the Philippines. Also known for its white sand, El Nido's limestone cliffs and coral reefs make its 50  beaches the most beautiful in the world — earning them all a collective spot on the list.

Elafonisi Beach (Crete, Greece)

Pinkish-white sand characterizes this Mediterranean retreat, which is actually a peninsula off the coast of Crete that has been separated into two parts by water, making part of it seem like its own island. In fact, the water is shallow enough that you can walk across the water from Elafonisi Beach to the island of Elafonisi when the weather permits! It's a great place for family and enjoying nature, as the area has a unique landscape not only because of the water but also thanks to rock formations and small coves you can explore.

Fig Tree Bay (Protaras, Cyprus)

Cyprus's beaches are all freely accessibly to the public, but the best of them is Fig Tree Bay. The name, of course, is due to the presence of fig trees near the coast here, and the beach is popular for families and water sports, such as parasailing, windsurfing, and waterskiing.

Flamenco Beach (Culebra, Puerto Rico)

Culebra is a small island that is part of Puerto Rico yet located off its northeastern coast, and its Flamenco Beach is a popular destination for people from all over Puerto Rico. In August 2016, the beach regained its Blue Flag Beach distinction, indicating that it meets the high environmental and quality standards of the Foundation for Environmental Education. It's an honor well-earned, as this beautiful beach has extremely clean and clear blue water, picturesque white sand, and great spots for swimming and diving.

Galápagos Beach at Tortuga Bay (Santa Cruz Island, Ecuador)

Ecuador is one of 2018's must-visit places, and the Galápagos Islands are a big reason. Among the Galápagos Islands lies Santa Cruz Island, where you'll find Galápagos Beach at Tortuga Bay, where you can surf and swim and bask in the equatorial sun. This is the only area of Tortuga Bay where you can swim, as the rest of it is made up of well-preserved beach reserved for wildlife such as Galapagos crabs, marine iguanas, and various birds.

Grace Bay Beach (Providenciales, Turks and Caicos)

When visiting the island of Providenciales, Grace Bay is where most tourists go for some great shopping, eating, and partying. Its beach is the best in Turks and Caicos, clean and pristine with not a rock or seaweed in sight, as the barrier reef about a mile out from the shore separates the bay from the Atlantic Ocean.

Half Moon Bay Beach (Half Moon Bay, Antigua and Barbuda)

Green hills and palm trees decorate the surrounding area at Half Moon Bay Beach, an active yet not too crowded beach in Antigua. While beachfront hotels can be found here, there are quieter stretches of sand to enjoy the view, and the beach is popular with families, couples, and singles alike. Swimming and snorkeling are both popular here, and local vendors have stalls with great food to offer you as well.

Hidden Beach (Islas Marietas, Mexico)

Also known as Playa del Amor ("Beach of Love"), Hidden Beach is probably the most unique one on this list. Visit Mexico's Islas Marietas when the tide is low and you'll find a big hole among the greenery within which lies, literally, a hidden beach with clear and beautiful waters and tons of shade. You have to take a long water tunnel to get here, swimming, kayaking, or taking a boat into the cove from the Pacific Ocean. While there are many tourist companies helping visitors get here, wristbands that grant access are limited, so we suggest making a reservation at least a few days prior to your trip.

Hyams Beach (Shoalhaven, Australia)

Swim the Outback at Hyams Beach or go on the White Sands Walk where you can witness the area's dolphins, seals, and penguins in their natural glory. There's plenty of activity here, such as snorkeling, surfing, kayaking, fishing, and more, making this one of Australia's best beaches.

Jumeirah Open Beach (Dubai, UAE)

Despite the fact that Dubai has risen higher and higher as a world destination over the past decade, there's still a lot people don't know about the Middle Eastern city. Dubai strives to excel in all aspects as a vacation spot, and that includes its free beaches. Jumeirah Open Beach is possibly the most popular of the bunch, located near the Palm Strip Mall and complete with showers, changing rooms, bathrooms, and even refreshments for beachgoers. In addition to the usual watersports, it's also a popular spot for walks, biking, roller skating, and running — the beach has a 1.8-kilometer track dedicated specifically to the latter.

Ka’anapali Beach (Lahaina, Hawaii)

Maui is known for its beauty, and its most beautiful beach is located in the hippest city in Hawaii, Lahaina. Now a popular beach retreat for many from around the world, Ka'anapali Beach used to be a favorite of Hawaiian royalty, and for good reason. Gorgeously clear water and a pristine white shore stretches for three miles in what became Hawaii's first planned resort and later an example for many future resorts around the world. Stay until sunset for the cliff diving ceremony, in which a diver lights torches along the cliff, known as Puu Kekaa, or Black Rock, before diving off of it to reenact a legendary feat of the Maui King Kahekili.

Kauna’oa Beach (Kauna’oa Bay, Hawaii)

The crescent-shaped beach of Kauna'oa Bay lies on the Big Island's Kohala Coast, and it's truly magical. Both romantic and family-friendly, there isn't much to do on the beach itself other than relax, but helicopter tours of the area are quite popular as are trips to Hawai'I Volcanoes National Park. The local Hawaiian fare here is excellent as well, with fresh fruits and seafood ubiquitously available. There are many reasons to skip Oahu on your next vacation to the 50th state, and this is one of them.

La Concha Beach (San Sebastián, Spain)

San Sebastián is known for its fantastic food scene, but it's also home to a fantastic beach. La Concha Beach is widely considered to be one of the best urban beaches in all of Europe, and it's located right in the center of San Sebastián. While it's about 1,500 meters wide, it typically only stretches about 30 meters from the edge of the water, so high tide can make the beach disappear entirely. When it is there, however, La Concha Beach is a great place for sunbathing and swimming, with its own natural swimming pool full of seawater.

La Côte des Basques (Biarritz, France)

Located on France's Basque coast, Biarritz's beach is magnificent and quintessentially European. It is said that European surfing began right here in 1957, and royalty and celebrity alike has frequented this stretch of sand in the decades since. There's a lot of seaweed here, resulting in thalassotherapy — the medical use of seawater as a form of therapy — having quite a bit of popularity at the nearby resorts.

Mamita’s (Playa del Carmen, Mexico)

Playa del Carmen is known for its fantastic beaches, but Mamita's is the best one. With so much to do, you'll never be bored; go jet skiing or swimming or take out a banana boat or catamaran. Walk down La Quinta Avenida when you're not hitting the crystal blue waves, and you'll find plenty in the way of drinking, eating, and shopping.

Maya Bay (Ko Phi Phi Le, Thailand)

Cliffs a hundred meters high surround Maya Bay, the beach in Thailand further popularized after the 1999 film The Beach was filmed here. Blue isn't the only color you'll see in the astonishingly clear waters; exotic marine life and colorful coral make this place prime for diving and snorkeling, complementing the white sand that is perfect for some seaside relaxation.

Muri Beach (Rarotonga, Cook Islands)

Muri Beach is romantic enough to be a popular destination for weddings and honeymooners, and its palm trees and turquoise waters are particularly stunning. Snorkeling is very popular here, and the water is shallow enough to be safe for those hoping to try it out for the first time. Swim alongside tropical marine life such as fish and moray eels or just enjoy the South Pacific sun of the Cook Islands.

Nai Harn Beach (Phuket, Thailand)

Although popular, Phuket's Nai Harn Beach only has a few hotels and restaurants, so it's managed to stay a relatively quiet destination. You're good to go swimming from November to April, but the current gets a bit stronger from May to October, making it better for watersports during the low season. Sailing boats and luxury yachts find good anchorage here, so your view will be full of them as well as tons of lush greenery, the perfect scenery to have during a beach massage like the ones offered here.

Navagio Beach (Zakynthos, Greece)

Located in the Ionian Islands of Greece, Navagio Beach is a secluded strip also known as "Shipwreck Beach" and "Smuggler's Cove" thanks to the 1980 crash of a ship thought to have been smuggling cigarettes, alcohol, and women. The wreck is still there, slowly decaying among the beautiful white sand, making for yet another perfectly Instagrammable spot.

Ngapali Beach (Ngapali, Myanmar)

Like many beaches, Ngapali is full of white sand and palm trees, but its direction facing west makes for an exceptional sunset. Go trekking in the surrounding areas or take to the waters with a kayak or catamaran. Four-hour snorkeling trips to explore the colorful fish are popular, and fishing isn't unheard of either.

Non Nuoc Beach (Da Nang, Vietnam)

Also known as China Beach, Non Nuoc Beach is located in the city of Da Nang, yet has surprisingly clear water that is home to rare, highly exportable seaweed and multiple five-star hotels. The waves are particularly suitable for surfing, among other watersports, and the nearby restaurant scene is fantastic as well — Da Nang is home to La Maison 1888, one of the most beautiful restaurants in the world.

Pig Beach (Exuma, Bahamas)

Officially named Big Major Cay but much more popularly known as Pig Beach, this uninhabited island is located in Exuma in the Bahamas and populated by feral pigs. No one is quite sure how they got there — legends tell of shipwrecks or hungry sailors who dropped them off but never came back to cook them — but the creatures from which the island gets its nickname are beloved by many and often fed by locals and tourists alike. They're quite good swimmers too, and more than willing to dive into the shallow, crystal-clear waters alongside other beachgoers.

Pink Sand Beach (Eleuthera, Bahamas)

Known for having the best beaches in the Bahamas, it makes sense that Eleuthera is also home to one of the best beaches in the world, period. Pink Sand Beach is a picturesque location with soft, always cool sand and calm, clear waters perfect for long walks. Snorkeling is popular here as well, as is horseback riding.

Playa Bávaro (Punta Cana, Dominican Republic)

Located in the famed resort town of Punta Cana, Playa Bávaro has beautiful, calm waters thanks to a long coral reef, and palm trees line the shore as well. The super-soft white sand here is part of what makes this the best beach in an area full of them, and the hotels and resorts here are plenty.

Playa Manuel Antonio (Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica)

The most popular national park in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio National Park has over 140,000 visitors every year, and one of the reasons why is its stunning beach. Playa Manuel Antonio is surrounded by the gorgeous, green scenery characteristic of Costa Rica full of amazing wildlife, such as toucans, parakeets, capuchin moneys, and more. Dolphins and migrating whales can be seen from the shore, and the silk-like sand complements the beautifully clear waves for a paradisiacal vacation.

Playa Norte (Isla Mujeres, Mexico)

The main beach on Isla Mujeres, Playa Norte is a picturesque paradise with safe, shallow waters that are bright blue and comfortably warm. The direction of the beach makes for a spectacular sunset, and the island has some fantastic seafood as well.

Playa Paraiso (Cayo Largo, Cuba)

Playa Paraiso means "Paradise Beach," and the name has been well-earned by this Cuban destination. With sand as soft as sugar and breathtakingly beautiful waves, it's one of many reasons you need to visit Cuba the moment you can.

Playa Rincón (Las Galeras, Dominican Republic)

If you're looking for a Caribbean beach vacation that's a bit more off the beaten path, visit Playa Rincón. It's a day trip from the town of Samana, and the beach is relatively undiscovered so you can relax on three kilometers of nearly empty beach among beautiful palm trees. There's a freshwater lagoon for you to enjoy too.

Praia de Santa Maria (Santa Maria, Cape Verde)

Praia de Santa Maria is a prime location for windsurfing, kitesurfing, and regular surfing in Cape Verde, with a golden beach and great weather. Local shops and restaurants make for a lot of non-water-related activities around the beach as well.

Radhanagar Beach (Havelock Island, Andaman and Nicobar Islands)

India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands are home to one of the prettiest and most underrated beaches in the world. Approximately two kilometers long and 30 to 40 meters wide, Radhanagar Beach isn't that big, but its beauty is insurmountable with fine, white sand meeting a lush rainforest creeping in from behind.

Reynisfjara Beach (Iceland)

In direct contrast to the many white sand beaches populating this list, Iceland's Reynisfjara has black sand. One of the top non-tropical beaches in the world, Reynisfjara Beach is located along the southern coast of the island nation and is characterized by amazing scenery and huge basalt sea stacks called reynisdrangar. This is more of a beach for walking and sightseeing, however; the waves here are particularly fierce, and beachgoers are advised to keep a safe distance of 20 to 30 meters.

Salt Whistle Bay (Mayreau, St. Vincent & Grenadines)

This idyllic beach is the perfect spot for all sorts of watersports in addition to swimming among turtles and colorful fish native to the Grenadines. The best way to access Salt Whistle Bay is by your own boat, as the beach has good anchorage and plenty of space. Beach bars and souvenirs abound here, as does a great restaurant scene.

Seven Mile Beach (Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands)

Not to be confused with Jamaica's Seven Mile Beach (which itself nearly made this list), Seven Mile Beach in the Cayman Islands is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. Located on the western end of Grand Cayman, the soft coral sand makes up a long crescent, and what lies below the surface of the water is even more enchanting. Colorful coral and diverse marine life makes snorkeling along this strand a must.

Siesta Beach (Siesta Key, Florida)

Siesta Key is known for its beaches having some of the finest and whitest sand in the world, making for a pleasant experience, particularly at Siesta Beach, where the sand is 99 percent pure quartz. A popular destination for families, friends, and couples alike, the beach has tons to do. Take to the shaded playground and picnic area or play a game at the tennis and volleyball courts. Food and drink is readily available at concession stands, and the shallow waters and watchful lifeguards make this beach kid-friendly as well. Beachgoers are also welcome to go fishing or boating, or even join the drum circle that meets on Sunday evenings to end a fun-filled weekend.

Smathers Beach (Key West, Florida)

As there aren't many on Key West, it's a Florida destination that actually isn't really known for its beaches. Smathers Beach, however, still earns a spot on this list thanks to both its location and exceptional water activities. Visitors to Key West's largest public beach enjoy kayaking, paddleboarding, parasailing, and windsurfing in particular.

South Beach (Miami Beach, Florida)

Miami Beach is the hippest city in Florida, and South Beach is the hippest part of Miami Beach, a melting pot of people from all over the world who visit year-round. In the spring, you'll find a mass of college students partying and hitting up the beach's bars, whereas summers see many families on their vacations taking part in watersports and building sandcastles. This free beach may get crowded at times, but that's only because its popularity has been well-earned, with an impressive food scene and tourist-friendly shopping.

Spiaggia dei Conigli (Lampedusa, Italy)

One of Europe's top beaches can be found halfway between Sicily and Libya on the Italian island of Lampedusa. Spiaggia dei Conigli, or Rabbit Beach, has no rabbits — but it does host rare loggerhead turtles who also love the beach for laying their eggs. The scene here is stunning, with rocky hills surrounding the beach, which has waves full of bright shades of green and blue. It's a bit of a hike to get to this beach, but it's absolutely worth it for the view.

Trunk Bay (St. John, US Virgin Islands)

Located within the Virgin Islands National Park, Trunk Bay is a tourist favorite thanks to its comfortable sands and gorgeous waves. Rent some snorkeling equipment so you can explore the 225-yard-long Underwater Trail of coral reefs, or simply rent a chair for some good old basking in the sun. Rocky cliffs and palm trees make for some beautiful sights on land too.

West Bay Beach (Roatan, Honduras)

Located on Roatan, the biggest of Honduras's Bay Islands, West Bay is the most popular bay in the country and its beach is surrounded by the second largest barrier reef in the world. As a result, the sea green waves of the beach are crystal-clear and combine with the shore's white sand for a great photo-op. It's one of the best spots in the world for snorkeling, and a boat by the name of The Coral Reef Explorer is a big tourist attraction; it's specially designed for the Bay Island reef systems so that tourists can explore the entire reef here through the underwater glass walls of the boat.

White Beach (Boracay, Philippines)

The small Filipino island of Boracay is home to one of the best spots for beachgoers who love to party. Night and day, White Beach is packed, with partiers looking to dance the night away after a relaxing day at the beach. At night, different music dominates different sections of the beach, which is full of candlelit sand castles and surrounded by bars and restaurants open for patrons until dawn.

Whitehaven Beach (Whitsunday Island, Australia)

You'll need a boat, seaplane, or helicopter to reach Whitehaven Beach, located on Whitsunday Island off the coast of Queensland, Australia. The journey is more than worth it, however, as this beach is both beautiful and tons of fun. Whitehaven Beach's sand has a pristine white color due to it being made up of 98 percent pure silica, and the clear waters are perfect for snorkeling. This being Australia, Whitehaven Beach also has some great barbecue restaurants, and it's easy enough to camp out nearby with the National Parks camp facilities. For more island vacations that you just have to take, check out our island bucket list.