We're of the opinion that any beach is a good beach. However, there is a select number of sandy stretches that really take the cake. They aren't hard to find — beauty like this is too good to keep a secret — but the world's best beaches can be hard to physically get to.
Trust us, the journey is well worth it, especially when you're met with majestic cliffs, secluded shores and rare wildlife sightings. Look, Ontario's beaches are beautiful, but you can't spot dolphins or swim past October.
For the world's best beaches, we journey a little farther away from home with a flight to the stunning Caribbean, a pump boat in the Philippines and a see-through kayak in the Seychelles. From the honeymoon-worthy paradise of Anguilla to the golden shores of South Africa, these bucket-list beaches are worth planning a whole trip around. Go ahead, dive right in.
Shoal Bay Beach
There’s turquoise and then there’s Shoal Bay Beach turquoise, which we are nominating to be its own colour. On the small but magnificent Caribbean island of Anguilla, Shoal Bay is the most famous beach, but you’d never know due to the lack of crowds. It feels like you’ve stumbled upon your own private paradise. Even the activities are quiet: snorkelling, kayaking, the occasional dolphin sighting. Restaurants and beach shacks line the three kilometres of soft sand speckled with pink hues.
2. Negril Seven Mile Beach
Legend has it this powdery stretch of beach, an hour drive from Montego Bay, was once controlled by unruly pirates. Nowadays, it’s more leisure-seekers and water-sport enthusiasts who explore its peaceful shores. If you consider moving a lounge chair an extreme sport, you’ll be right at home in the shallow and calm waters. Looking for thrills? The chill waves are ideal for activities like jet-skiing, horseback riding or a sunset boat cruise (arguably Jamaica’s best).
This pine-tree covered sandbar, stretching over Kyoto’s Miyazu Bay like a natural bridge, is a breathtaking work of nature. Formed by waves that gradually built up the sandbar, Amanohashidate connects two mountains on either side of the water so they don’t get lonely. In the summer, the eastern coast’s white sandy beaches are a prime swimming spot. Head up the sandbar’s south side via cable car or chairlift to a small, nostalgic-looking theme park with a ferris wheel, go-karts and epic views.
4. La Pelosa Beach
Sure, there’s Amalfi, which hogs all the attention, but we recommend going a little farther west across the Tyrrhenian Sea to La Pelosa Beach located on Sardinia’s northwestern tip. During high-season (June to September), visitors must pay a small fee to enter the beach, but its clear water and small-but-mighty-fine sandy beach is well worth the price.
You can wade ankle deep for metres, and it’s so clear you can see right to the bottom. After a day of sunbathing, explore the town of La Pelosa where beachside bars, restaurant terraces, and scoops of gelato await you.
5. Anse Source d’Argent
This spectacular slice of paradise off the coast of East Africa looks like a surrealist painting. Give your head a shake though and you'll see that the towering granite boulders, swaying palm trees and transparent kayaks floating on crystal waters are very much real.
Out of the Seychelles's 115 islands, the views at Anse Source d’Argent take the cake. After all, it's one of the most photographed beaches in the world.
6. Elafonissi Beach
It's hard to find a bad beach in the Mediterranean, but a pink beach? Now that'll give you something to write home about. The sand at Elafonissi Beach on Crete, Greece's largest island, has a unique pink tint thanks to tiny seashells that have calcified and washed up on the shore over thousands of years.
Technically, Elafonisi is its own island that's separated from Crete by a shallow, warm lagoon — keep your eyes peeled for rare loggerhead sea turtles. The best time to visit is late summer when the crowds and winds have calmed down.
7. Entalula Beach
Get yourself on a pump boat and spend the day island hopping around El Nido's picturesque beaches and towering limestone cliffs. Entalula Island is a must-stop with its secluded, powder-soft sandy beach, stunning cove and native wildlife like monitor lizards. Make sure to pack some extra snacks (for you, not the lizards).
8. Gantheaume Point
Located just outside of Brome in Western Australia, Gantheaume Point's red sandstone cliffs are a sight to behold. On the southern end of Cable Beach, bone white sandy beach meets majestic red cliffs and the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. It's rugged and a whole lot of wonderful.
The best part? When the tide is very low, you can see 130-million-year-old dinosaur footprints preserved into the rusty red rock.
9. The Golden Mile
On the edge of Durban, South Africa’s coastal city, lies The Golden Mile — a sprawling beachfront and promenade known for its golden sand beaches that always have something going on. Here, the warm Indian Ocean meets a shining stretch of beaches separated by piers and protected by lifeguards and shark nets.
Its many beaches, from North Beach (a surfer’s haven) to South Beach (swimming central) and the Bay of Plenty (prime fishing), can get busy — but try to find a spot and snag a yummy bite from surrounding vendors and Zulu hawkers.