My Five Favourite Beaches Around The World

Filed Under: Travel

I love just about nothing more to relax than lying in the sunshine on a beautiful beach in an exotic location.

A lot of my travel for most of my adult life has revolved around seeking out some of the most beautiful beaches I can find around the world.

Growing up in Adelaide, Australia, 20 minutes from some truly beautiful beaches, combined with the city’s blisteringly hot summers — it’s 38 degrees C/100 F today — meant most of my summers growing up were spent at the beach, and I now love visiting as many beaches around the world as I can.

Cities are great, but in the middle of summer I love being on the coast, relaxing with a beer in hand, reading a book in the sun and watching the world go by.

I’ve visited hundreds of beaches in (I would estimate) at least 20 different countries, and have found some really beautiful ones. When I’ve mentioned my love of beaches in previous articles here at OMAAT, I’ve had a number of readers ask what my favourite beaches are.

Now I don’t profess to have visited every beach in the world — no one has.

So this is not a definitive list of the world’s best beaches — these are instead my favourites I’ve personally visited and enjoyed.

What do I look for in a great beach?

  • Good conditions to both enjoy the sand and the water — warm weather (in summer at least), sunshine, not too windy, and water that’s a nice temperature to be in. As beautiful as the beaches in Cape Town, South Africa are, the water is so ice cold that nobody goes in it, which to me, largely defeats the purpose of going to a beach!
  • Some facilities such as cafes, bars, restaurants, bathrooms, parking, etc., though this is a balance — I don’t tend to enjoy really built up, crowded, commercial, noisy beaches.
  • Picturesque — blue water, white sand, ideally little to no seaweed, and no rubbish.

It was very difficult to pick juamat five, but in no particular order, these are my favourites.

1. Rilindja Beach, Ksamil, Albania

When I first saw this beach it took my breath away and I would go so far as to say it is the most beautiful beach I have seen in Europe.

The sand was about the whitest and softest I’ve experienced and the water was unbelievably clear. Albania was not where I expected to find such a beautiful beach, but I ended up staying there for a week because the beaches in the local area (Rilindja especially) were so stunning.

Ksamil itself is not a beautiful town, but its beaches more than make up for it.

The town’s peak tourist season is unusually short — only around 10 weeks from late June to early September. We were there in mid-September and local cafes and restaurants were closing by the day, but it meant there were no crowds.

Albania, including Ksamil, is a very affordable country to visit.

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#Albania

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How to get there on miles

This place is a little tricky to get to.

You can fly into Albania’s capital Tirana from major airports like London Gatwick (on British Airways), Frankfurt (Lufthansa or Adria), Rome (Alitalia) or Istanbul (Turkish) or various low cost charter airlines from other European airports. But you’ll then need to either drive, or take a bus transfer for around five hours down to Ksamil.

We did this and while inexpensive, Albania’s roads aren’t amazing, so it;’s not the most comfortable journey.

Another way to get there, which should be quicker, is to fly into the nearby Greek island of Corfu (you can see Corfu from Rilindja beach). This has seasonal flights from airports like London (on BA), Dublin (Aer Lingus), Helsinki (Finnair), Munich (Lufthansa) and Geneva (Swiss) as well we charter airline flights from all over Europe.

Once in Corfu you can take the ferry to Sarande (Albania) and then it’s a short drive/bus down to Ksamil.

Corfu is a great destination as well, although the beaches have nothing on Ksamil.

2. Trinity Beach, Far North Queensland, Australia

Far North Queensland has no shortage of stunning beaches — I think amongst the best in Australia.

Different Australians like different parts of ‘FNQ’ — Port Douglas is popular for honeymooners, while Palm Cove is well known for its spa treatments, and safe and family friendly holidays.

I’ve been to FNQ several times and tried out a few different locations, but Trinity Beach remains my favourite. It’s much smaller than Port Douglas and Palm Cove, so retains a quaint, small seaside town feel while still being accessible by road to the Great Barrier Reef, and to me is the definition of relaxation and tropical tranquillity.

The main beach is just steps away from multiple accommodation options as well as a handful of laid back, welcoming cafes and restaurants.

Trinity Beach (Source: Getaroom)

How to get there on miles

Trinity Beach is one of the ‘Cairns Northern Beaches,’ all accessible by road from Cairns Airport. Both Qantas and Virgin Australia have numerous services to Cairns from other cities in Australia — especially the major airports of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Cairns also sees a handful of international airlines, like Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong, Air New Zealand from Auckland, China Eastern from Shanghai and Hainan Airlines from Shenzhen.

3. Ko Samet Island, Thailand

Thailand has a huge number of beautiful beaches, and picking just one here was tough.

Ko Samet/Samed narrowly edged out Ko Lanta for me, because it’s a unique island experience, easily accessible from Bangkok.

The island is so small that it only has one main road and much of the island is walkable. There’s plenty of beautiful, inexpensive villas and other accommodation at the back of different beaches on the island, as well as being dotted with various bars and restaurants right on the beach that you can easily walk from one to the next, along the beach.

Eating an entire baked fresh fish on the sand by candlelight is a beautiful way to enjoy Thailand!

There is a good amount of facilities, though fortunately Ko Samet’s strict conservation restrictions means the island hasn’t seen the same sort of rampant, unregulated development of places like Phuket (when I was there at least), so it remained peaceful, clean but still with beautiful white sandy beaches and refreshing water for a dip when the sun got too warm.

I haven’t singled out one particular beach in the island, because they are all quite similar and I enjoyed a number of them equally.

I’ve been to the Philippines and they also have beautiful beaches though I have a soft spot for the overall setup/facilities of Ko Samet.

I find the service culture in Thailand to be far better than the Philippines especially in terms of understanding guests needs which is one the reasons I’ve been to Thailand far more times than the Philippines.

Ko Samet, Thailand (Source: Chiclocations)

How to get there on miles

Fly to Bangkok BKK airport, one of Asia’s major airports serviced by dozens of major carriers.

From there you can either get a taxi, mini-bus or hire a car for the 3 – 4 hour drive down the coast to Rayong or Ban Phe, to then take the short ferry across to Samet (it is an island, remember!).

4. Long Bay, Anguilla, Caribbean

I visited Turks and Caicos last month mainly because it has the ‘world’s no 1 beach,’ as voted by Trip Advisor, Grace Bay.

Grace Bay was certainly a lovely beach, but it doesn’t make my list of favourites. It had a fair amount of seaweed on the beach and in the water, and although there were huge resorts right on the beach, there were surprisingly few facilities there, meaning you needed to leave the beach to have a meal or a drink.

I spent three weeks island hopping through the Caribbean last month, as I’ll write about in a separate post, and it has plenty of fantastic beaches, but the most stunning beaches I saw were in the tiny island of Anguilla.

We stopped in Long Bay for lunch as part of a day long catamaran sailing adventure, and I could not get over the incredible turquoise waters of the island with their white sandy beaches.

It was exactly what the postcards of beautiful Caribbean beaches look like!

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Island-hopping through the Caribbean.

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How to get there on miles

This one isn’t easy!

While Anguilla has an airport, it is only serviced by small regional airlines from other nearby islands.

Your best bet is to fly to nearby, larger Sint Maarten (SXM) airport, which is serviced by major airlines like Air Canada (from Toronto), Air France (Paris), KLM (Amsterdam) and United, Delta and American from various major US airports.

SXM airport has the added benefit of some of the world’s most unique plane spotting opportunities!

5. Se Rapita, Majorca, Spain

Spain is a reliable European option for great beaches, and with the addition of their fantastic Mediterranean climate, great food and wine and easy transport options, it’s one of my favourite countries in Europe in summer.

I’ve chosen Se Rapita for its beautiful clear water and miles of uncrowded, peaceful beaches.

The beach is dotted with the odd bar/cafe if you’re looking for something to eat or drink, but otherwise, even in the busy summer months, it has never been crowded when I’ve been there and is incredibly peaceful.

There’s the odd yacht bobbing lazily out in the ocean but the peace isn’t broken by jet skis racing each other or hawkers trying to sell you things every five minutes.

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Yep, this'll do.

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How to get there on miles

The only airport on the island, Palma de Majorca Airport (PMI), is the third busiest airport in Spain, with most major European airlines flying there at least seasonally over the busy summer months.

It’s very popular, especially with British and German travellers, so if you’re redeeming miles you’ll want to book as early as you can.

There are no long haul flights to Majorca yet, but with Qatar now operating to Malaga (another Spanish beach holiday destination with less traffic than PMI), I hope to see long haul flights, at least seasonally to Majorca at some stage.

Bottom line

I’ll continue to look for great beaches as I travel in the warmer months, as I find them to be a great way to relax in the sunshine.

This is by no means a ranking of every beach in the world, just those I’ve been lucky enough to visit on my travels.

If you have found even better beaches than any listed above please let me know in the comment below as I’ll never get sick of exploring new ones as well as returning to these favourites.

Where is your favourite beach?

Comments
  1. Erm….do you mean Es Trenc rather than Sa Rapita? I’d be surprised if anyone would pick Sa Rapita over its next door beach….i mean you might….

  2. @James – Have you ever been to the Philippines? Some of their islands, such as Palawan and Bohol, have some pretty great beaches. They have white sand, warm water, beautiful scenery and other characteristics you mentioned in this article along with being a fairly cheap country. If you have been to those, I was wondering how you think those stack up to other great beaches you have been to.

  3. I’m surprised you didn’t include Whitehaven Beach in Queensland. During all our travels, this beach was the clear standout. It’s difficult to access and there are no facilities on the beach, but that didn’t take away from the beauty.

  4. In no particular order some of my favorite that I have visited.

    Crandon Park Beach; Key Biscayne FL (north end is natural florida)
    John D. MacArthur Beach St Park; Singer Island FL (natural florida)
    Gulf Islands National Seashore; Pensacola Beach FL (Civil War fort and sugar white sands)
    Long Sands Beach; York ME (Ice cold water, beautiful flat beach)
    Oval Beach; Saugatuck MI (Lake Michigan, dunes, nude beach)
    Parakeet Island Beach, Rottnest Island, Western Australia (just stunning)
    Blacks Beach, San Diego (nude, great cliffs)
    Cape Cod National Seashore, MA
    South Padre Island, TX
    Ocracoke Island, Outer Banks, NC
    Playa El Zonte, El Salvador (black sand beach with HUGE waves)
    Tulum, Mexico. (Sugar sands beach with Mayan ruins)

    Now I am in a beach mood.

  5. Such lists are usually a function of the tiny slice of the multitude of great and pristine beaches that one has been to. I would come up with a list that would include none of those listed here, so this is a YMMV sort of thing, which is already evident by comments saying that this or that beach should have been included. 😉

  6. Some of my favorites (although I am fine with no commercial facilities at the beaches I frequent):

    – Anse Lazio, Praslin, Seychelles
    – Trunk Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
    – Makapu’u, Oahu, Hawaii
    – White Beach, Boracay, Philippines
    – Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
    – Little Beach, Maui, Hawaii

  7. I like the beaches along the north shore of Nova Scotia in the summer. The water is warm and the beaches are empty. Some days my wife and I will go for a walk on a beach and we’ll see less than a dozen other people. Occasionally none at all.

    I’ll admit they get busier on the weekend, with maybe 30-100 people on a 1+ km beach.

  8. I found out that Galicia, in Spain, also have incredible beaches.

    Jericoacoara in Brazil (I doubt you can speak it, James)

  9. 1- Anse Georgette, Praslin Island, Seychelles
    2- One Foot Island, Aitutaki, Cook Islands
    3- Praia de Conceicao, Ilha Fernando De Noronha, Brazil

  10. I know this list is wrong, not including any Philliphines beaches. Truly the country in the world with the most beautiful beaches.

  11. What about Hoek van Holland or Scheveningen (NL)? I admit, the water is relatively cold, even in summer. But the beach is awesome and so are the restaurants. And it’s a rather short train ride from AMS …

  12. I believe you were in Florida recently. Did you go to the Clearwater/St. Pete area (by Tampa). I used to live there and they have some amazing beaches with Clearwater being a bit crowded but alot of fun things to see and then St. Pete which is more quiet. You should see both of them since there both different and my favorite is Honeymoon island which is peaceful and has an amazing beach!

    I haven’t been to the Caribbean though so I can’t compare them to this. Maybe Lucky can since he grew up in Tampa.

  13. @ W – I did go to Clearwater. Unfortunately it was a cold and very windy day that day so we weren’t able to enjoy the beach.

  14. Cant wait to see more of your caribbean posts.
    Our favorite hands down is 7 mile beach in Negril Jamaica. To us it blows away anywhere in Hawaii,Turks and Caicos, Aruba, Grand Cayman, Bahamas, or anywhere in Mexico. We love trying to find a place we like more, but have been unsuccessful, but will keep searching!

  15. I am shocked to see Koh Samet on your list. It’s for sure not the most scenic beach according to Thais. Many Thai beaches are sadly suffering from overtourism.

    What about beaches in the smaller islands around Okinawa, Japan? They are awesome! These used not to be well known for global mass tourism, but the secret is now out.

  16. I need clarify my comment above. Tortuga Bay in the Galapagos may be our favorite beach. However its a half hour walk form the road and there are no amenities there.

  17. Thank you so much, James! This is a fun exercise, and there truly are no “wrong” answers. All around the Yucatan Peninsula you can see the sugar white sand beaches that stretch endlessly, some punctuated by Mayan ruins. On the other Mexican coast, you can have “Arizona by the Sea” in Cabo.

  18. Finally, a Ksamil fan such as myself. I spent weeks on that beach. Koh Lipe ain’t bad either. Great post OP, more like this.

  19. It’s funny what makes our lists of the “best” of anything. To me, what makes Grace Beach such a fantastic place is the fact that there isn’t lots of places there spoiling it. You can walk for miles in the morning with a cup of coffee and enjoy the beautiful water, the fabulous white beach and the quiet of the whole experience.

  20. Warwick Long Bay Beach, Bermuda. 95% of what makes Horseshoe Bay so popular (pink sand, cliffs) but maybe a quarter of the crowds. Or walk about half a mile west, towards Horseshoe Bay, and have an amazing pink sand sheltered cove all to yourself.

    Drawbacks – limited services at the beach, and Bermuda isn’t exactly the most affordable destination.

  21. Yeah Queensland is nice and all until you get stung by a deadly jellyfish that infest those waters lol #Australia.

    Oh mate, you NEED to visit Brazil and its beaches in Rio and in the Northeast and Fernando de Noronha. Now THATS beauty.

  22. Living in Bangkok, I would certainly echo Ko Samet being on this list. Sadly, though, it is getting packed with tourists who don’t appreciate the need to keep the island clean. Increased longtail activity is also stirring the tranquility somewhat. However, it is still my go-to for a weekend at the beach. If coming to Bangkok, don’t overlook Samet, especially in favor of Pattaya (ew), Hua Hin, or Cha Am.

  23. ‘We did this and while inexpensive, Albania’s roads aren’t amazing, so it;’s not the most comfortable journey.’

    That should be .

    ‘This has seasonal flights from airports like London (on BA), Dublin (Aer Lingus), Helsinki (Finnair), Munich (Lufthansa) and Geneva (Swiss) as well we charter airline flights from all over Europe.’

    …as well …

  24. WORD on Trinity beach, the best spot in Oz.

    Cant believe someone mentioned it, I have never seen anyone on that beach ever!

  25. My list (not in order of preference) according to places we have been:

    1) Praia do Sancho – Fernando de Noronha – Brazil
    2) Coroa do Avião – Pernambuco – Brazil
    3) Gouverneur Beach – St Barth’s
    4) Trunk Bay – St John – US Virgin Islands
    5) Tulum – Quintana Roo – Mexico
    6) Bamboo Island – Thailand
    7) Kalanggaman island – Philippines (probably the most beautiful beach we have ever been)
    8) Portinho da Arrabida – Portugal
    9) Praia Dona Ana – Algarve – Portugal
    10) Punaluʻu Beach – Big Island Hawaii – USA
    11) Beach of the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
    12) Beach of the Hotel Kia Ora – Rangiroa – French Polynesia
    13) Beach of the Intercontinental Thalasso – French Polynesia
    14) Mont Saint Michel – Normandy – France
    15) Jökulsárlón – Iceland

  26. No mention of Kenya , Diani Beach ,south of Mombasa will be mentioned by those who have visited the Kenya coast .
    Actually there are many windswept beautiful beaches in Africa, just to mention a few that I have been to : Kenya, Tanzania, Moqambique , South Africa, Ghana ,Gambia. They do not have upmarket beach bars and restaurants ,we take our own drinks and food .
    I can see that I really am an experienced traveller .

  27. @James — Thanks for this. I was one of the ones who encouraged you to write a favourite-beaches list. Always on the lookout for a good lagoon…

    Out of curiosity, are there crocs at far-north-Queensland beaches?

  28. @ Malc – there are both fresh and saltwater crocs in FNQ but in my four separate trips there I’ve never seen any near a beach.

    If you want to see huge crocs in a controlled environment I thoroughly recommend Hartleys Crocodile Farm. It was excellent.

  29. The beaches if Florida’s panhandle rival these beaches and are a lot more convenient for most in the Eastern U.S. I recommend Santa Rosa Beach.

  30. Trinidad beach in Brazil, near Parati, about two hours from Rio.
    For urban beaches nothing beats Ipanema in Rio.
    Any of the beaches on the south shore of Nantucket are great as well.

  31. As a Bangkok resident, I’m shocked to see Koh Samet on this list. While it’s convenient to the capital (if you have your own car and don’t have to take the 3+ hour bus ride to Rayong), the beaches are nothing special, nor are the hotels. The gay subculture is pretty amazing certain times of the year, but it’s far from the most beautiful island in Thailand. Off the top of my head, I’d say Koh Wai (in the Trat archipelago), Koh Kradan (in Trang) and even Koh Lipe, as crowded as it is, have objectively better beaches. Koh Poda in Krabi is also amazing, though it’s basically a day trip destination.

    I agree with you in the comments above about Ishigaki. I mean, you can’t even swim at Kabira Bay!

  32. @Jason: “For urban beaches nothing beats Ipanema in Rio.”

    For urban beaches, I like Ipanema and Copacabana, but I’d put them behind Promenade des Anglais Beach in Nice, France, South Beach in Miami, Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, and Barceloneta Beach in Barcelona, Spain.

  33. My favourite beach has been Datai Bay on Langkawi, with only two hotels (The Andaman and The Datai Langkawi, with the latter also being in my top three hotels).

  34. My favourite is Berchidda in Sardinia. it’s totally wild, with just a small restaurant and 2 kilometers of white sand . there are even very beautiful beaches in Costa smeralda.

  35. Trinity Beach in far north Queensland? Beautiful for sure, but it’s somewhat dishonest to suggest to people that they can swim in ANY northern Australian beach without the real risk of death by a Box Jellyfish sting (summer months) or a Saltwater Crocodile. Any/all FNQ beaches mean you’re sweating like a pig on the sand, unable to get in

  36. #1. Rockley Beach Barbados

    Agree that Rangali Island Maldives has great snorkeling, is pretty, and is warm but as a beach beach it’s not really good enough for the list.

    Wreck Beach in Vancouver is a nude beach surrounded by great natural beauty (in addition to the nudity) but the water is not “warm” unless you swim in the North Sea and is more grey than turquoise. Nice but not nice enough.

  37. Any ideas on the best beach(es) in Vietnam? I have limited experience in both Danang and Hoi An. In my opinion the beaches in Danang were barren. The sand was fine and the water was reasonable (although not clear at all), but there was nothing attractive…flat, no trees, no shade, no topography, nothing but water and sand and sun and wind. It reminded me of some parts of Iraq, but with a big flat expanse of water in front of me. I much preferred the beaches in Hoi An, if for nothing else they had some trees and grass along the beach that you could retreat to. But I’d welcome any other suggestions. I enjoyed visiting Vietnam for work and hope to bring my family there soon, and would like to include a couple of days at a beach. And yes, I’ve seen the article that Tiffany(?) wrote about her Vietnam trip planning; a lot of great tips, but not much about beaches. Thank you.

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