With so many terrific beaches in the world, it is hard to pick only 25 to represent as the best beaches in the world. The following list is a compilation of the best beaches based on travel awards and experts in travel. In no particular order, these beaches, most underdeveloped and budget friendly, are the best beaches for vacationing any time of the year.
1. Matira Beach, Bora Bora, French Polynesian IslandsFlickr by Othanga
On Matira Beach, you can experience the sunset melting into the turquoise waters off one of the best beaches in the world. Located at the tip of Bora Bora, you find a tiny paradise packed with activities for both adventurous and laid back lifestyles. Splurge and stay in a bungalow on the water, or stay in a more traditional hotel. This tiny island can be lavish or budget friendly.
2. Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres, MexicoFlickr by Dolanh
The tiny island of Mujures is believed to have once been the sanctuary for the Mayan goddess Ixchel. Today, it hosts one of the best beaches near Cancun, Mexico. Here you can feed whale sharks or explore the island via golf cart. The nightlife is active and food is plentiful.
3. Fort James Beach, Fort Bay, AntiguaFlickr by Ed Yourdon
This beach is only a five-minute drive from the St. John Port. Located on the northwest coast of Antigua, St James Beach is a popular spot for both locals and travelers due to its pristine beauty, and abundance of activities. On the island you can try your luck at a casino, dine on local cuisine, and shop for everything from fine jewelry to locally made pottery.
4. Seven Mile Beach, Negril, JamaicaFlickr by Jenni Konrad
This seven-mile stretch of white sand and clear water is a magnificent sight during the day, but nothing captures the essence of Negril like watching the sunset melt into the water atop the cliff at Rick’s. Negril is famous for cliff diving into the clear soft waters of the Caribbean and their nude beaches.
5. Paradise Beach, Royal Davui Island, FijiFlickr by Daniele Columbo
This beach is home to the Royal Davui Island Resort. It is an adults only playground with 16 private Vales, surrounded by the Beqa Lagoon. On Royal Davui Island, you can begin your day with a champagne breakfast, eat a lazy lunch under a banyan tree and finish the night with a picnic lunch on the beach.
6. El Nido, Palawan, PhilippinesFlickr by Jerick Parone
El Nido is considered the best beach in the Philippines by many sources. Often called the Philippines last frontier, El Nido is home to marble cliffs, crystal water filled lagoons, and bright colorful fish. Off the beach, you will find lush mangrove forests, gorgeous waterfalls, and caves that date back as far as 2680 BC.
7. Hopkins Village Beach, Garifuna, BelizeFlickr by Bob Reck
While strolling down the white sand beach in Hopkins Village, drums fill the air. Rhythm is an important part of the Garafuna culture. These friendly people make up about four percent of the Belize population, but can claim home to the most spectacular beach in this tiny country. Garafuna’s speak their own language, sustain their own culture, and pass ancient traditions down from generation to generation.
8. Mahai’ula Beach, HawaiiFlickr by Coast to Coast Move
This untouched beach is part of the Kekaha Kai State Park. It is just north of Kona, and accessed via a dirt road. Once you reach the beach, you are greeted by white sand, clear water, and plenty of trees for shade. Follow the coastal lava trail for one mile to visit Makalewena Beach. You will not find the usual tourist type attractions on this beach, but that is part of its attraction.
9. Ofu Beach, Ofu Island, American Samoas
Flickr by Susan Ware
Much like the Hawaiian Beach of Mahai’ula, Ofu Beach of the American Samoas is rugged and uninhabited. Only accessible by plane, this remote island is a top attraction for tourists and locals. Ofu Beach offers unprecedented views from atop its massive cliffs, and great water conditions for swimming and snorkeling. It is the perfect adventure spot for backpackers and hikers.
10. Baja do Sancho, Fernando de Noronha, BrazilFlickr by Michael Rios
Baja do Sancho is often referred to as one of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil. This beach greets you with white sand and emerald green water for as far as your eye can see. In the bay area, you will find high cliffs where visitors enjoy watching dolphins at play. During the rainy season, the beach offers a special treat of two natural waterfalls that empty into the sea. This beach is a favorite for turtle watchers.
11. Anakena Beach, Easter Island, Chile
Surrounded by coconut groves and crystal clear water, this beach is a favorite for divers. In the winter months, it is common to see huts set up along the beach where locals sell their goods to travelers. Anakena is considered the place where King Hotu Matua disembarked. Locals tell the tale of how one of the caves was once the Kings home.
12. Galapagos Beach, Tortuga Bay, Puerto Ayora, EcuadorFlickr by Dolma Alanso
Most travelers discover this secret paradise while traveling to Galapaga to see Lonesome George at the world renowned Charles Darwin headquarters. He is a 150-year old tortoise and the last one of his kind. Once travelers stumble upon Galapagos Beach, they find seaside hotels, fantastic food, and every water sport you can imagine. Most stay a while to enjoy the serenity of this magical place.
13. Flamenco Beach, Culebra, Puerto RicoFlickr by Ormoth
Flamenco Beach, named by the Discovery Channel as the second most beautiful beach in the world is located in a campground. Here you will find beach vendors with umbrellas, paddleboards, and other small watercraft. The beach is long and continues through the bay. Visitors swim, hike, picnic, and camp while surrounded by one of the most beautiful settings in the world. Make reservations early for this one.
14. Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks and CaicosFlickr by Matthew Straubmuller
Providenciales, called “Provo” by the locals, is most famous for its world class diving. The five mile beach area began development, “Club Med” style, in the 1980’s and is now filled with luxury hotels and condominiums. Provo, once ranked “Best Beach” by Conde’ Nast magazine, has won World Travel Awards several years in a row. The area is unique due to its rugged hills, uninhabited cays, and miles of coral reefs close to the shore and awaiting exploration.
15. Major’s Bay Beach, St. Kitts, West IndesFlickr by Jackie Meredith
St. Kitts is a potpourri of both English and French traditions and architecture. For now, it is still a hidden gem but plans to develop it further are underway. Here, you will find the usual water sports, but for animal lovers, this island paradise offers a special treat. The abundance of rare tropical birds makes this a must visit destination for bird watchers, and friendly monkeys entertain tourists near the beach. The monkeys are believed to have been introduced to the island by pirates.
16. Playa Paraiso, Cayo Largo, CubaFlickr by Topyti
The crystal clear water of Playa Paraiso fills pools on the soft white sand while a mangrove forest provides the backdrop for this magnificent Cuban beach. The water here is not stirred like sea waters to the north, allowing for miles of aqua marine colored water. Adventure seekers enjoy renting a jeep to explore the many roads and paths that surround the beach. This area is famous for its black coral reef, scuba diving, and riding horseback along the beach.
17. The Baths, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin IslandsFlickr by Kevin Oliver
The rocky shoreline of the Virgin Gorda is home of The Baths. This massive display of granite boulders, some as big as 40 feet in diameter, fill the beach for as far as you can see. The beach itself is white sand encompassing pools made from the giant rocks. The boulders formed from molten rock that never reached the surface. They cooled creating the granite layer, then broke apart from years of shrinking and cracking. Through time, weathering rounded the corners of the broken rock which created the artistic display today.
18. Cable Beach, Broome, AustraliaFlickr by Siergert Michaelsen
This beautiful beach stretches 22-kilometers along the whitest of sand. Red cliffs fill the background by hanging over the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. Camel rides at sunset are a favorite activity of tourists on this famous Australian beach. At low tide, the 130-million-year-old dinosaur footprints can be explored. This is also an excellent location for watching dolphins and migrating whales.
19. Anse Source d’Argent, La Digue Island, SeychellesFlickr by Didier Baertschiger
Famous for its reefs and lagoons, full of flora, fauna and green sea turtles, this famous beach is the backdrop for famous advertising campaigns such as Bacardi Rum. Divers and snorkelers from all over the world visit here to swim amongst colorful fish and catch a glimpse of a black reef shark or whale shark in the clear waters. Although vehicles are allowed on this island, the main means of transportation is bicycle. The locals encourage tourists to adapt to their lifestyle and rent a bicycle from a local vendor.
20. Ka’anapali Beach, Lahaina, HawaiiFlickr by Michael Johnson
Once named the best beach in the world, Kaanapali Beach is a popular destination for travelers from all over the world. Now lined with luxury resorts, condominiums and some of the best shopping on the Islands, this beach has something for everyone. You can cliff dive from the northern cliffs, watch the sunset into the water, or watch a reenactment of King Kahekili diving off of Black Rock. Visitors look forward to returning to this exotic destination year after year.
21. Praia dos Carneiros, Tamandare, BrazilFlickr by Márcio Cabral de Moura
This lesser known beach is a perfect place for rest, relaxation, and romance. There are restaurants and colorful accommodations available near the beach, but don’t expect anything super fancy. This hidden gem is tucked away from the touristy beaches of Porto de Galinhas. It is by far the prettiest beach in the area. Many couples take advantage of the small wedding chapel located on the beach.
22. Anse Lazio, Praslin Island, SeychellesFlickr by Gianbrutal
After traveling a long and windy road, your path ends in a tropical paradise filled with tropical foliage, turquoise water and white sand surrounded by granite. Divers love this spot as it offers some of the most scenic diving in the Seychelles. Praslin is the site of the fabulous Vallée de Mai, a site once thought to be the original “Garden of Eden”.
23. Playa de Ses Illetes, Formentera, Balearic IslandsFlickr by Morzo
This beach is untouched perfection. Wood-built beachside restaurants are a favorite amongst travelers and locals alike. Be warned, most of the beaches here are unofficially nude and the locals like it that way. They have fought and succeeded at keeping things simple by blocking development in this section of paradise. It is common to see yachts anchored near shore here as this is a favored playground of the rich and famous.
24. Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island, AustrailiaFlickr by Mark Wassell
This scenic island is only accessible by boat, but once there, you will find an abundance of lush green foliage, rugged hills, and turquoise water for as far as you can see. This is a popular area for tourists to visit when traveling to the Great Barrier Reef or Queensland Australia. The natural surroundings make it a favorite spot for boaters to drop anchor and swim in the clear blue waters.
25. Doctors Cave Beach, Montego Bay, JamaicaFlickr by Loren Sztajer
Doctor’s Cave Beach is one of the best beaches in the world and the most visited in Jamaica. On the beach, you can rent kayaks, water scooters, umbrellas, towels and beach chairs. To save on high prices charged inside the gates of this beach, many travelers purchase from street vendors. Remember, Jamaica is a barter town. Don’t be afraid to barter for a better price.
These are just 25 of the worlds best beaches that are great to visit anytime of year. Most of the best beaches are unspoiled by tourists so you may know of a hidden gem of your own. If you have a favorite beach, we would love to hear about it. Please share in the comment section below.
Featured photo credit: Image via Flickr by Eddy via flickr.com