Beautiful beaches are always worth a visit. Read on to learn about the 20 most beautiful beaches in the world that you absolutely must not miss!
Sometimes, the soul needs an urban adventure in Tokyo. You know, bright and colorful and drowning in geekery and overflowing with the neon unicorn glitter that comprises half of the Japanese psyche.
But sometimes, the soul needs something restive. Primeval. And when the travel bug bites around the same time your soul calls for something restive, don’t settle for a quick “beaches near me” search in your Google bar. Go to beautiful beaches where no man has gone before. Okay, maybe not no man, but beautiful beaches that remind you why the true magic of the sea has inspired countless myths, stories, and art across every culture for centuries.
Oh, and if you’re not much for palm trees? There are beaches for you too. Here’s a list of seven of the most beautiful beaches in the whole world.
1. Anse Source D'Agent, La Digue Island, Seychelles
Anse Source D’Agent is reputed to be the most photographed beach in the world. Between the soft white sand, crystalline turquoise water, intensely green nature reserves, and lagoons made for snorkeling, it’s the stuff that dreams are made of.
Out of every white sand beach in Seychelles (there are many), this one is recognized as the best. Stick around for the beautiful beach sunset.
2. Scala dei Turchi, Sicily
If all you get from Sicily is The Godfather, you have never experienced Scala dei Turchi. And if you haven’t experienced Scala dei Turchi, you have not lived.
Scala dei Turchi (literally “Stair of the Turks”) is a breathtaking confluence of water and time situated on Sicily’s West Coast. The beach gets its name from blindingly white marlstone cliff and soft limestone, worked by Mother Nature into soft, sinuous terraces and curves, accented by the blue sea and salty breeze.
3. Durdle Door, England
This probably isn’t your new favorite sunbathing destination, and it’s more rocky than sandy (in the tradition of true English beaches), but oh my, is it beautiful.
Durdle Door, for which the beach gets its name, is a natural limestone arch in Dorset, part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. And while the beach displays its true English character, those pebbles and shingles actually make the beach even more unique and beautiful.
4. Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
While Leblon and Ipanema are the new It-spots in Rio, Copacabana is still a vintage gem worth visiting (even if you’re not a Barry Manilow fan).
Between Copacabana’s miles of golden sand, the jagged Brazilian mountains, the lush Art Deco architecture, and the beach boulevard (featuring a black-and-white mosaic by Roberto Burle Marx), Copacabana remains a stunner.
5. Black Sand Beach, Iceland
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a beach so uniquely beautiful as an Icelandic black sand beach.
The reigning beauty queen is Reynisfjara (say that five times fast), a world-famous black sand beach on the South Coast of Iceland.
Other than black sand, the characteristic feature of these beaches is the Reynisdrangar, the dramatic basalt formations shooting up just beyond the shore. Local folklore says they were trolls trying to pull ships to shore but went out too late and turned to stone when the sun rose.
6. Cape Le Grand National Park, Western Australia
There aren’t many beaches in the world where kangaroos can sunbathe, but Cape Le Grand National Park is nothing if not quintessentially Australian.
Lucky Bay (home to the world’s whitest sand) is also the favorite beach of a colony of friendly kangaroos. For a view of everything (and abundant wildflowers), hike the 1.5-mile Frenchman Peak Trail.
7. Praia da Marinha, Portugal
If you ask us, Praia da Marinha is the archetypal Algarve cove–and the most covetable of the lot.
The sea-battered cliffs and limestone croppings call to mind Australia’s Twelve Apostles. Strong swimmers can take a jaunt through its limestone arches, but the kids will also love all the nooks, crannies, and caves. The whole family will love the great snorkeling.
8. La Pelosa Beach, Italy
This little stretch of sand on Sardinia’s northwestern tip is one of Italy’s most celebrated beaches–and in Italy, that’s saying something.
Refreshingly, La Pelosa is also one of Italy’s most unassuming beaches, neighboring the charming village of Stintino. If you’re a watersports fan, this is a prime spot, and for seaside exploration, pay a visit to the Aragonese Watchtower.
9. Lengkuas Island, Indonesia
Looking for an unpretentious yet gorgeous beach experience? Lengkuas Island, perched just off the coast of Belitung Island in Indonesia, is a humble but beautiful beach offering a bit of everything.
Mini forest? Check. Pristine beach? Check. Granite boulders? Check. Dutch lighthouse? Check.
It’s one of the quieter beaches on this list–in fact, the only three people on the island full-time are the lighthouse operators. But that’s what makes it so refreshing.
10. Elafonissi Beach, Greece
Social media addicts live for Elafonissi Beach in Crete, and while it’s no longer the top-secret local spot it once was, a trip early in the season will give you a slice of heaven–rich blue waters and powdery pink sand (the result of pink seashells sacrificed to the Instagram gods).
Wade off the island to enter a whole new world. It’s an internationally protected nature reserve, home to more than 100 rare plants, including the Androcymbium rechingeri, which is so rare it doesn’t even have a common name.
And if flowers aren’t your thing, stay for the sunsets.
11. Nacpan Beach, Philippines
When you imagine tropical paradise, you’re probably imagining Nacpan Beach.
A 45-minute drive from El Nido, this place is the definition of chill. Think endless coconut palms, unassuming seafood restaurants, and waves perfect for polishing your surfing skills.
12. Blue Lagoon, Turkey
In this gorgeous spot where the Aegean Sea meets the Mediterranean, you’ll find azure waters trimmed with turquoise, lapping on pristine white beaches. It’s part of a national marine sanctuary, which means no boats to disturb the peace or disrupt the view.
13. The Baths, British Virgin Islands
At the top of every adventurer’s sightseeing list is The Baths, the crown jewel of the British Virgin Islands.
Adventure types will love the collection of makeshift caves, mini coves, and hidden pools. You haven’t experienced The Baths until you’ve gone swimming in its spectacular, light-filled grottoes. And if you love snorkeling, this is the spot to do it.
14. Castiglione di Ravello Beach, Italy
You didn’t really think you would get through a best beach list without a trip to the Amalfi Coast, did you? Yes, Ravello Beach is super touristy, and yes, it’s still 1000% worth it.
After exploring the Bohemian town of Ravello (and marveling at the cliffside views), venture to the umbrella-lined beach at the base of the cliff. Once you’re done taking a dip, be sure to visit the bougainvillea-lined gardens of Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo
15. Cannon Beach, Oregon
Serene, misty, and sweeping, dotted by driftwood and scented with salt and crowned by Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach is distinctly Pacific Northwest. Don’t let Twilight fool you–this is a Pacific Northwest coastal idyll.
Take a peek at Hug Point for waterfalls cascading into the sand. Visit Pelican Brewing Company after a bonfire for a local pint. Oh, and visit Haystack Rock, of course–it’s a fan favorite with beachgoers and tufted puffins alike.
16. Totaranui Beach, New Zealand
Had enough of white sand beaches? Totaranui Beach is here to prove that New Zealand has so much more going for it than Lord of the Rings.
Unlike many a tropical paradise, Totaranui’s sand is the color of the setting sun. There are few better spots for kayaking, snorkeling, or sailing. And when the day is done, head to the nearby campground to spend a night under the clear New Zealand sky.
17. Makena Beach, Hawaii
It’s not really fair to pick one tropical paradise from a collection of islands comprised of tropical paradises, but our winner is Makena Beach, the largest beach in Maui.
Don’t let that steer you off–it’s part of Makena State Park, which also means it’s one of the largest undeveloped beaches in Maui. Sandwiched between black lava outcroppings, it offers great views of Molokini and Kahoolawe and frequent guest star appearances by sea turtles.
18. Maya Bay, Thailand
Forgive Maya Bay for its crowds–it’s one of Thailand’s most famous beaches and also one of its best.
It’s a breathtaking bay, protected by cliffs on three sides, with emerald waters dotted with Thailand’s signature limestone karsts. Plus, the spot has been closed to protect against overtourism for two years and is expected to reopen this year, so you’ll get Maya Bay’s best side.
19. Sotavento Beach, Canary Islands
Say sayonara to all the tourists in Costa Calma’s streets in favor of the most beautiful beach in the Canaries. Located on the island of Fuerteventura (one of the islands closer to Africa), it’s blasted by hot Saharan winds and brightened by fine golden sand.
Oh, and did we mention it’s a 17-mile stretch of undeveloped coast? Yes, please!
20. Isla Holbox, Mexico
Hey, we get it. Cancun has some memories. Like your DJ ex or your bachelorette party. Do yourself a favor and skip Cancun for Isla Holbox, a.k.a. Mexico’s best-kept secret.
We’re talking white sand, beach bungalows, flamingo-filled waters, and seafood dinner plucked from the sea mere minutes ago. Paradise? We think so.
Ready for the Worlds' Most Beautiful Beaches?
Feeling the call of the sea? Whether your tastes run to a tropical paradise or dramatic adventure beaches, there’s a whole world of beautiful beaches out there just waiting for you (and your Insta) to discover.
Looking for more great travel tips? Make sure to check out our blog for more great posts, like these Michelin-starred dim sum restaurants in Singapore.