People go to different beaches for different reasons. To one person, white smooth sand is what makes the perfect beach; to another, it's the deep blue colour of the ocean. Amazing sunsets and wonderful waves for surfing are some of the other reasons people visit their favourite beaches over and over again.
There's no one definition for what constitutes the perfect beach, but there are some beaches that are objectively great, regardless of your specific preferences. So, for this list of the best beaches around the world, we picked the ones that are a solid combination of two or more of the most desirable features of any great beach.
Here's our list of 20 of the best beaches in the world:
1. Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Barry Manilow’s 1970s hit song ‘Copacabana’ had the world in a frenzy just like this beach with the same name does. However, the song is not about the Brazilian beach or its hotel; it's about a nightclub in ‘the hottest spot north of Havana’. The idea for the song did pop up at the hotel bar on the beach, so it kind of still gets some credit. Right?
The crescent-shaped beach of the Copacabana is one of the most popular destinations in the world. The beach is so famed, in fact, that celebrities and royalty often flock there. On this beach, there are stunning rock formations and swaying palm trees, providing a natural backdrop for amazing, FOMO-inducing pictures. Artificial features such as architecture are just as important to the experience on this beach. For instance, the luxurious hotel or the boulevard designed by Roberto Burle Marx, a Brazilian architect, are must-sees.
2. Trunk Bay, St. John, USVI
Trunk Bay is recognised as one of the most photographed beaches in the United States Virgin Islands, so it's no surprise that it's also St. John’s most famous beach. The beautiful white sand runs for over a quarter-mile with important structures at different corners of the beach, ensuring you're always getting an eyeful.. The scenery underwater is just as beautiful as it is above the surface — if not more beautiful. So, grabbing your snorkelling gear and diving in can make for an unforgettable visual treat.
3. Honokalani Black Sand Beach, Wai'anapanapa State Park, Maui, Hawaii
For the Hawaiians, this place is holy and attached to many of the people’s legends. If you're spiritually inclined, the chances that you’ll understand where the people of Hawaii are coming from is very high. The lava caves and impressive greenery are the natural wonders of Honokalani Black Sand Beach, but the man-made structures also play a role in affirming the sanctity of the beach. (For example, it’s home to the largest known heiau or temple in Hawaii.)
Beaches like the Black Sand Beach are a result of a special process. After lava flow solidifies, the large rocks are crushed into tiny pieces by ocean waves crashing into them. The process often takes millennia, but it leaves us with incredible sights — and sites — like this one in Maui.
4. Matira Beach, Bora Bora, French Polynesia
The South Pacific is home to a series of gorgeous islands that make up French Polynesia, and Bora Bora is one of these islands. Although it's only 18 miles long, Bora Bora is particularly notable for its beaches that are practically closed off from the rest of the world, and hotels that are just as private.
The dreamy Matira Beach is one of such intimate parts of the island, helping maintain Bora Bora’s title as a ‘Romantic Island’. Planning a baecation? Matira’s candle lights, fine white sand and serene atmosphere can make you and your lover fall even deeper in love with each other. This beach is also known to ignite sparks between unsuspecting people, so there's a possibility you have a new lover at the end of (what was meant to be) a solocation.
5. North Island beaches, Seychelles
There are three main private beaches on the entire island, all of which are known for being breathtaking.
The ocean currents cause the beaches to change on this island. As a result, a beach could be wider or narrower depending on what time of year you visit. A beach could even be in an entirely different place than it was last season! This phenomenon is referred to as the ‘Beach Movement’. The way the waves constantly wash sand on and off the beach means that sometimes, it's an entirely new beach. You can feel like you're making history by simply taking a stroll down one of these beauties!
The private beaches of North Island are East Beach, West Beach and Honeymoon Beach. Honeymoon Beach, as the name implies, is recognised as one of the world’s most romantic places, making it perfect for baecations. All the North Island beaches have fluffy white sand that looks and feels like powdered sugar.
6. Reethi Rah, North Malé Atoll, Maldives
The One&Only Reethi Rah is a private beach resort in the tropical paradise that is the Maldives. With beautiful blue water you're allowed to dive into and clean white sand that's usually warm because of the sun, this is a perfect place for summer vacations. From amazing cuisine to spacious villas and suites, staying here guarantees luxury.
The resort even appeals to art collectors and enthusiasts with its “exclusive range of vintage Louis Vuitton Keepall bags transformed by legendary atelier, Jay Ahr”. With their luxurious spa treatment offers as well, it's obvious this is where to go if you're looking to spoil yourself and the people that matter to you.
7. Playa del Amor (Hidden Beach), Mexico
If someone blindfolded you and put you right outside this beach, you’d be disappointed to only find a crater in front of you. When you go inside, though, there’s a surprise waiting for you. Rightfully dubbed ‘Hidden Beach,’ Playa del Amor is a sandy cavern in one of the Marieta Islands, Mexico.
Simply getting to the beach is an hour-long boat ride, which is an adventure in its own right. You don't have to worry about organising the boat ride, though. Because of Playa Del Amor’s popularity, many tour agencies provide these rides to the island. Of course, obscure places like this can induce a feeling of intimacy, which makes the Hidden Beach not only Instagram-worthy but also a top baecation destination.
8. Seagrass Bay, Laucala Island, Fiji
Laucala Island is one of three privately owned islands at Laucala Resort in Fiji. In the more plant-filled area of Laucala island is the Seagrass bay, home to the Seagrass Villa. If you don't want to miss out on the beauty of greenery, but still want a sun and sand type of vacation, this is the place for you.
The coconut plantations and rich green mountains mix perfectly with the beach view, making Seagrass Bay the absolute definition of natural beauty. It’s so breathtaking, many say the Island is what they imagine the Garden of Eden looks like. Do you want a glimpse of nature at its best? Then this beach should be at the top of your must-visit list.
9. Banana Beach, Koh Hey (Coral Island), Phuket, Thailand
Banana Beach is one of Phuket’s best offers, and it's not just because of the speedboat ride from Chalong Pier —although many people say that’s their favourite part. Its title, ‘The Pristine Destination’ gives you a mental picture of what the sand and the sea look like on this beach.
This alias, and others such as ‘Best Corner On The Island,’ help assert the beach as Phuket’s most popular destination. Generally, Phuket is recognised as one of the most beautiful travel destinations in the world, making Banana Beach the best of the best. It’s travel mathematics!
10. St George Beach, Naxos, Greece
No matter where you are in Naxos Town (Chora), St George Beach is just a stroll away. However, its accessibility isn't the only reason it's the most popular beach in all of Naxos. Well shielded from Northern winds, the air at St George Beach is calm, while its waters are shallow and warm. The organisation is top-notch as well, ensuring you can easily rent umbrellas and sunbeds.
There's an undeniable aura of safety for people of any age, so this beach is a great travel destination for family vacations. If you're in it simply for the aesthetics, we recommend an evening visit. By this time, there are no more umbrellas and sunbeds scattered everywhere. Instead, there are colourful lights at lodges and diners. You could even scour the beach for the perfect spot to take in the serene view of the sunset.
11. Sunset Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
Oahu is home to many ‘bests,’ but in terms of stunning beauty and incredible waters, Sunset Beach takes the cake. Like the name implies, this beach is magnificent at sunset! The sand becomes a beautiful shade of orange, and the waters glisten as waves of every size crash onto the shore.
In the winter, the waves are high enough for surfers to make the most of. When summer comes, there are fewer immense waves, but you can now experience a new type of beauty — underwater beauty. So, whether you prefer to grab a snorkel, a surfboard or just a sunbed and umbrella, Sunset Beach has something for you.
12. Greenfield Beach, Jervis Bay, Australia
Immaculate is the perfect word to describe the soft white sand and unbelievably clear waters of Greenfield Beach. The pristine beauty of the beach is magnified for watchers who notice the sea eagles with white bellies and the dolphins playing in the waters. Most of the vegetation makes for a great picnic area, where you can enjoy the free electric barbecue offered on the beach. You can also take a walk through the foliage, finding even more wildlife to take in.
Greenfield Beach is named after a man called Colin Greenfield, a historic resident of the area from 1942 till the 1970s.
13. Trou aux Biches Beach, Mauritius
In 2011, this small-town public beach was awarded the World's Leading Beach Destination at the World Travel Award. The Trou aux Biches beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on the whole Island of Mauritius. The beach is home to the Trou aux Biches Beachcomber Golf Resort & Spa, a Mauritian top luxury hotel. It’s occasionally referred to as the most romantic hotel on the island, so add it to your list of baecation destinations.
14. Sugar Beach (Jalousie Plantation), St Lucia
Three years and $100 million-plus worth of renovations changed the Jalousie Plantation to Sugar Beach. This beach is very deserving of its name, and it's not just because it used to be a sugar plantation. The sand is white and fine enough to be mistaken for sugar, and the service is undeniably sweet.
Celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow can testify to how incredible it is, as she is known to have spent time at the Viceroy Resort, a luxurious resort at Sugar Beach. The beach is not only beautiful but also full of adventure. You can participate in watersports like snorkelling or diving. If you choose, even a morning walk could be a satisfying vacation activity on this beach.
15. Hanalei Beach Park & Bay, North Kauai Region, Hawaii
The entire bay is separated into four beaches because of their ocean conditions. In the winter, the waves rise to amazing heights — the outer bay having the highest waves in the entire bay. These waves make Hanalei a surfing paradise. During summer, however, even the outer beaches don't have waves that can be properly ridden.
In times like this, swimming and playing in the sand are the most popular activities. There're even sandcastle building competitions everywhere! The children are jumping for joy — the one inside of me is no exception. Hanalei Bay is also very aesthetically pleasing, whether you're admiring the greenery from your seat or getting on a yacht for a closer view of the dolphins.
16. Gold Rock Beach, Grand Bahama, Bahamas
The low tides of this beach are such that waves crash yards ahead of the original shoreline. This means you can have fun in the water for almost 75 yards without worrying about the waves overwhelming anyone or anything. The phenomenon has been playfully dubbed the ‘welcome mat’ of the Grand Bahama Island. There aren't many other structures besides sitting areas, and this is most likely because people seem to prefer playing in the shallow waters for most of the day.
The view of Gold Rock Beach is picturesque enough to make the beach a Hollywood star. Disney thought this beach was just right for scenes in two movies in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
17. Placencia Peninsula, Belize
Placencia is 16 miles of different beaches, all of them very beautiful. The peninsula is described as an island because — with these incredible beaches — it thoroughly looks and feels like one. While there are modern facilities and luxury resorts at Placencia, the peninsula retains a sort of archaic natural beauty.
The beach is so beautiful, in fact, that just strolling and taking it all in is one of the most common tourist activities. Whether it's a solocation or family vacation, the Placencia Peninsula has a beach for everyone.
18. Gouverneur Beach, St. Barth
Gouverneur Beach in St Barthélemy is an Instagram-worthy travel destination — and not just because of the picturesque white sand, its waters and vegetation. You also get to make amazing memories by looking for treasure!
There are rumours that a French Buccaneer called Captain Montbars the Exterminator and his crew buried their stolen treasure on this St Barth beach but died before they could come back for it. The treasure is supposed to be in a cave on the beach, but it's yet to be found. A chance to find the treasure is one of the beach’s main attractions.
19. White Beach, Boracay, Philippines
This is one of the best beaches in the whole of the Philippines and the main attraction of Boracay Island. White Beach is the perfect mix of blue and white in the sky and on the ground. The sound of the crashing waves, the view of the sunrise/sunset, the cool air and amazing facilities all ensure that your stay on the beach is a wonderfully immersive experience. The vegetation on White Beach also asserts it as the perfect tropical island destination.
20. COMO Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos
This private island resort is highly luxurious, from the physical elements like the villas to services like their fundamental therapies and elite cuisine. The most magical things can happen at this grand resort, including candlelit private dinners close to the shore with that special someone. The resort is dedicated to customising beach holidays to individual taste; you can basically have the holiday of your dreams here.