Long stretches of glistening golden sand, sparkling blue water, and cocktails within reach: we know what makes a good beach. If you’re seeking pure relaxation, we’ve found just the beaches around the world for you to bliss out on. We’ve also included a few beaches which are ideal for surfing, snorkeling, and other water activities — because relaxation isn’t only about lying back with a cocktail.
1- Elafonisi Island, Crete
Located on the western side of Crete, Elafonisi Island is just 200 meters off the coast. Voted several times over as home to the most majestic beach in the world, one glance at Elafonisi Island’s stunning pink sand and crystal clear blue-green waters will leave you longing to lounge on its shores. But that’s not all: you can also enjoy a peaceful swim in the shallow lagoon situated between the mainland and the island. The perfect destination for a summer day, Elafonisi Island is popular — and with good reason! Beat the crowds by heading here at the beginning or the end of the summer.
2- Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Actually measuring only 5.5 miles, the famous Seven Mile Beach is situated on Grand Cayman’s west shore. The clear waters and coral sands attract visitors from around the world, but that’s not all Seven Mile Beach has to offer. Enjoy lively bars and Jamaican restaurants as you soak in the Caribbean sun. Whether sipping on fresh coconut water straight from the source is up your alley, or getting to know the local wildlife on a snorkeling trip is more your speed, Seven Mile Beach has something for everyone. Oh, last but not least: a visit to the Caymans wouldn’t be complete without rum. Head to this nearby distillery and brewery to taste this spirit at the source.
3- Harbor Island, Bahamas
Located off the northeast coast of Eleuthera Island, Harbor Island is a quiet refuge away from the busy Bahamian beaches. Popular among couples and families who enjoy relaxing away from the masses, Harbor Island is home to pink beaches and a seemingly endless supply of sun loungers. And with no shortage of beachside bites, you’re sure to find something to your tastes. For the more adventurous folk, neighboring island Nassau is close enough and packed with beach activities.
4- Matira Beach, Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Matira Beach is the only public-access beach in Bora Bora, making it the most accessible on the island. This mile-long beach features long stretches of white sand and a shallow emerald lagoon, with palm trees and thick tropical foliage in the background. For drinks and dining, you won’t have to walk far. Several casual cafes are scattered along the beach, all western-facing to enjoy the stunning sunsets. During low tide, it’s possible to swim out to the barrier reef which is a popular spot to snorkel with sharks and stingrays.
5- Reduit Beach, St. Lucia
Reduit Beach is situated just south of Pigeon Island National Park along Rodney Bay. For the active traveler, this beach is great for snorkeling, scuba diving, and sailing — or even joining a Segway nature trail experience. For vacationers with a slower speed in mind, never fear. There are numerous ways to luxuriate at dozens of nearby spas. And if you want to keep living the high life, Reduit Beach happens to be situated near a large yacht marina, so you can easily charter a boat to a nearby island. Anchors aweigh!
6- El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
Home to around 50 white sand beaches, El Nido is full of fun ways to spend a day in the sun. No matter which beach you visit, you’re guaranteed dramatic limestone formations, insanely white sand, and intensely blue water. And don’t even get us started with the sunsets. While they are certainly ‘gram worthy, nothing beats being there in person. Seek out a secluded spot on El Nido (this won’t be difficult — the area is relatively under the radar), sit back, and relax.
7- Navagio Beach, Zakynthos Island, Greece
Navagio Beach is often referred to as Shipwreck Beach or Smuggler’s Cove and is located on the coast of Zakynthos in the Ionian Islands of Greece. This remote destination is notoriously difficult to get to: unless you’re the captain of your own ship, you’ll need to hop on one of several boats that go back and forth to the beach. Take the experience up a notch via a day trip and see Navagio Beach in style via speedboat, as well as the Blue Caves at Xingia Beach.
8- Hyams Beach, Australia
Hyams Beach has the whitest sand in the world. Don’t take our word for it — the Guinness Book of World Records says so. This, however, is just one of the reasons to visit Hyams beach. Located on the southern shores of Jervis Bay, you can join a tour from Sydney that explores all of the beaches along this coastal strip, including Hyams Beach. The bay is encircled by Booderee National Park and is also a popular spot for whale watching.
9- Île aux Cerfs, Mauritius
Mauritius is notorious for luxurious beach holidays — it’s a tropical paradise packed with stunning beaches and top-notch hotels and lodges. Île aux Cerfs is a privately owned island near the east coast of Mauritius and has the largest lagoon among the islands. Most travelers make their visit a day trip, soaking up the sun, snorkeling, and enjoying lunch at one of the beach restaurants. You can get to the island either by motorboat or splash out on a private Catamaran Charter.
10- Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda
Perhaps the most famous of the Bermuda beaches, Horseshoe Bay is known for its pink sands, turquoise water, and jagged rock formations. This is a popular beach (particularly when cruise ships are in town), but for a quieter spot, travelers just need to walk a bit further east along the beach. Horseshoe Bay has everything needed for a fun beach day, including chairs and umbrellas for rental, lifeguards, a beach bar, and public restrooms. For families, there’s Horseshoe Bay Cove, which is a natural shallow pool perfect for splashing around in.
Portugal has everything you need for a dream vacation. Spend your time unwinding on idyllic beaches, hiking breathtaking cliff passes and eating your way through a mountain of pastel de natas thanks to our guide to the country’s most unmissable spots.
1- Take to the waves Listen up surfers: forget Australia and Hawaii. The highest wave ever surfed (24m) was in Nazaré, just a few kilometers north of Lisbon. Even if you’re not that into surfing, from the lookout point of Miradouro do Suberco, you can enjoy spectacular views of the ocean crashing against the rugged coastline. The biggest waves usually occur in early November, but you’ll need a bit of luck to catch an elusive 20m one. Unfortunately not all of us are able (or crazy enough) to surf waves as high as a house, but luckily Portugal has more surf spots to offer than just Nazaré. On Arrifana Beach in the southwest of the country, perfect surf swell awaits you on a stretch of coastline that’s lined with high cliffs.
2- Unwind on a deserted island An uninhabited island that’s basically just one giant beach with a little restaurant on sounds pretty damn perfect in comparison to the touristy alternatives on the mainland. Soak up the sun, swim and repeat all day – with absolutely nobody disturbing your peace. The nature on Ilha Deserta is still relatively untouched, and its remoteness will make you feel like you wandered into paradise. Instead of spending the entire day on the island, you can take a catamaran tour that visits both Ilha Deserta and Ilha Farol. The latter is ready-made for hiking enthusiasts since there are no roads or vehicles.
3- Find your dream beach Portugal’s 900 km coastline is home to its fair share of unique beaches. One such beach, Miramar, is just a short drive from Porto. Here, embedded in dreamy white sand and built on several rocks, sits Senhor da Pedra, a picture-perfect little chapel marooned in the middle of the beach. If you find yourself further south, head to Praia do Paraiso (Paradise Beach). You can only reach the beach by walking down a set of cliff steps, but you’ll be rewarded with a stunning sandy beach that truly lives up to its name. The charming fishing village of Carvoeiro, which overlooks Praia do Paraiso, is well worth exploring.
4- Get lost in nature There are seemingly millions of different hiking tracks you can choose to tackle in Portugal – and with each route more breathtaking than the next, it’s tough to settle for just one or two. Arguably Portugal’s (and the world’s) most picturesque coastal path is known as the Fisherman’s Trail, a single track along the cliffs of the west coast. Even though the whole trail is 120 km long, it’s easily accessible meaning you can choose to hike as much or as little as you want. If you’re less of a hiker, you can enjoy the many different paths (or even kayak routes) in Arrabida National Park, just a short drive from Lisbon.
5- Meet the Venice of Portugal With its brightly painted gondolas peacefully floating through the canals, Aveiro easily gives Venice a run for its money. Each gondola (also called a Moliceiro) is unique, usually painted to depict traditional landscapes found around Aveiro. They were originally used to collect seaweed in the lagoon, but you’ll now see them taxiing locals and tourists. Make sure to also explore the city by foot – Aveiro boasts beautiful pastel houses, public gardens and a century-old train station with stunning blue azulejo tiles.
7- Do go chasing waterfalls After a quick forest hike in Serra do Açor, you’ll find yourself standing in front of the stunning 20m high Fraga da Pena waterfall. If you’re brave enough, you can go for a swim in the lagoon that sits underneath it, but only if you don’t mind very (and I mean very!) cold water. The closest ‘big’ town is Coimbra – it’s easy to reach from Fraga da Pena and the perfect starting point for a camping trip.
8- Venture to the end of the world We (hopefully) all know that earth is not flat, but when you’re in Cabo de Sao Vicente it sure feels like you’re about to fall off the edge of the world. At the most southwestern point of continental Europe, you’ll find an almost hundred-year-old lighthouse that sits perched atop cliffs that can reach up to seventy meters. You can enjoy “The Last Bratwurst Before America” from a little food stand while you take in the amazing scenery. In the unlikely case that you get sick of the view, just a kilometer before the lighthouse is Fortaleza do Belixe, a 15th-century fort that’s packed with history.
9- Explore Europe’s trendiest capital A trip to Portugal is incomplete until you’ve visited its artsy capital city. The age-old yellow cable cars will transport you from A to B in what may feel like the hilliest city in the world. No matter where the cable cars (or your legs) take you, you’ll soon realize there’s no shortage of things to do in Lisbon. Take in the views from Park Bar (an inexpensive rooftop bar in the city center), enjoy exhibitions at the MAAT and do not leave the city without enjoying a pastel de nata from Manteigaria, a famous little bakery that produces fresh batches every hour.
10 – Marvel at the almond blossoms Everyone’s heard of the gorgeous cherry blossom trees in Japan, but you’ll find something equally as beautiful at the very edge of western Europe. From late February until early March, the Douro Valley in northern Portugal becomes a flower paradise you really don’t want to miss. Legend has it that a young king had the almond trees planted to woo a Nordic princess. He hoped by covering the valley with white almond blossoms she would be reminded of the snow back home. We’re not sure if it worked – but it did leave us with a breathtaking natural spectacle to enjoy! Be sure to celebrate the blossom with the locals at the Folklore Festival of the Almond Trees in Mogadouro.