Forgive us, please, if we can’t stop thinking of some of the most beautiful beaches in the world where our toes have squished the sand.
When it’s raining outside – and it’s being doing a lot of that lately here in Vancouver – we tend to indulge in some daydreaming. A beach with white powdery sand. Warm silky water rolling up ever so gently into the sweet curve of a bay. Palm trees for shade.
Perhaps you too are daydreaming of a beach you’d love to be on right now?
Well let’s daydream together, shall we?
Most beautiful beaches in the world
1. Lover’s Beach, Cabo San Lucas (Mexico)
Isn’t the name of this beach romantic? It’s the perfect name. Behind it (on the other side of the famous “Arch”) is Divorce Beach – where the undertow is so dangerous that people have died swimming there on the Pacific Ocean side. (Maybe it should be called Widow’s Beach?)
You can only reach Lover’s Beach by boat.
For about $10 USD p.p., you can hail one of the many water taxis cruising the Cabo San Lucas Bay.
Normally, there’s no beach around the rock “Arch” formation you see here.
But one year, a strange phenomenon occurred where sand built up, and we could walk from Lover’s Beach to Divorce Beach, then scurry through the Arch and back around the rocks to Lover’s Beach.
2. Bwejuu Beach, Zanzibar
The second in our list of prettiest beaches in the world has also been praised by Conde Nast Traveler. The magazine once named Bwejuu Beach one of the 30 most beautiful beaches in the world.
It’s best for swimming only at high tide. Other times the tide rolls out so far, you can only go “reef walking.” That’s a unique adventure – with poles in hand and wearing reef shoes, we splashed ankle-deep in the sand, around small patches of reef, careful to avoid sea urchins as we looked for little fishies and shells. We also walked for miles and miles along the endless, often empty, stretch of coral-white sand beach.
There are no large chain resorts on Bwejuu Beach (a blessing!) – only boutique hotels like The Palms, where we blissed out in our own beach banda, sipping vanilla-infused lime martinis and listening to palms rustle in the breeze.
3. Turkbuku, Bodrum (Turkey)
A simple fishing village 20 years ago, Turkbuku is now a fashionable little place on Turkey’s Bodrum Peninsula for a quiet and upscale getaway.
The beaches are tiny and pebbly. So the small hotels have decks with jetties jutting out into the turquoise sea, with beanbag cushions or deck chairs for lounging.
When you want to swim, you climb down a ladder into the limpid water (no icky sand gets in your swimsuit). We remember how crystal clear the water was – and the exotic sounds of the Muslim call to prayer coming from across the bay.
4. Bora Bora, French Polynesia
We can’t tell you the name of this beach. It might not even have one! But we can tell you this lovely beach is on one of the tiny, sandy-beach, coral islands (called motus) ringing the lagoon around Bora Bora.
5. Long Beach, Vancouver Island (Canada)
Some days on the wild west coast of Vancouver Island, the surf pounds the grey sand of Long Beach. We even tried surfing here one winter – it was warmer in the water with wetsuits on than it was out in the rain!
Long Beach is set within the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, so it’s pristine – just a long, 10-mile stretch of sand hugging dense coastal rainforest.
Often mist swirls about in the morning, making the place quite mystical.
But when the sun comes out, color returns, and the grey sky and ocean turn to brilliant blue.
This is a beach for walking, reflecting, losing (or finding) yourself in nature – and maybe trying a little surfing.
6. Koh Yao Noi, Thailand
Take a speedboat from Phuket to Koh Yao Noi in Phang Nga Bay – and you arrive at a little island where time moves very slowly. There’s only one two-lane road around the island, with only the occasional scooter or car puttering along.
We de-stressed at the eco-chic Six Senses resort, so pleasant it was hard to leave our bungalow with pool. But its beach, which you see here, was really inviting too. We loved the view of the huge limestone karts rising up in the bay.
Bicycling around part of the island, we also discovered several other untouched beaches, with not a soul on them.
7. Perissa Beach, Santorini (Greece)
Like most of Santorini’s beaches, Perissa Beach is a coarse, black sand beach, so it’s not conventionally pretty. Perhaps it’s more striking than pretty? Restaurants and beach clubs are strung along the road lining the volcanic beach.
Because the sand is so hot, wooden planks lead down to the beach chairs and umbrellas.
Wear your flip-flops from your beach chair to the water if you don’t want to burn your tootsies!
On our visits to Santorini, we’ve spent most of our time on the caldera side of the island in delightful cave hotels, gawking at stunning sea views (often from the hotel’s infinity pool or our own little pool on our terrace). But when we’ve wanted to be more active, it’s been fun to explore some of the island’s interesting beaches, like Perissa Beach.
8. Sire Beach, Lombok (Indonesia)
A 2½-hour boat ride from Bali, the Indonesian island of Lombok is scalloped with long, white sand beaches (like the one shown in the first photo below).
The island gets only a trickle of the tourists that Bali pulls in, so it’s not nearly as developed – some of the beaches we saw were virtually empty. You need a scooter or car to get to them, so most visitors just stay put at their hotel if they’re enjoying a beach day.
Sire Beach is one of Lombok’s most beautiful beaches, and with only one charming boutique hotel and a few exclusive rental villas, you pretty well have it to yourself. Just put your RayBans on, because the sand is blindingly white!
9. Kantiang Beach, Koh Lanta (Thailand)
Unspoiled Koh Lanta (a one-hour speedboat ride from Krabi) is blessed with miles of pristine white-sand beaches. It’s also a paradise for scuba divers and snorkelers, and it has a national park with hiking trails too. We hung out on Kantiang Beach at Pimalai Resort & Spa, Koh Lanta’s first luxury hotel, but you can also find a handful of other smallish hotels and restaurants on this quiet, crescent-shaped beach.
We took this picture after bicycling (huffing and puffing up a steep hill!) to this perfect little beach bar.
10. Poipu Beach, Kauai (Hawaii)
Hawaii has no shortage of scenic beaches – some of the prettiest beaches in the world are found in Hawaii. Like Hamoa Beach on the Big Island, which author James Michener thought was the most beautiful beach in all the Pacific. And Hanalei Bay Beach, a long white beach on Kauai’s north shore, where you can swim, surf and sail.
Then there’s Poipu Beach on Kauai’s south coast, which you see here below (named “America’s Best Beach” by The Travel Channel). We love its thick golden sand into which you sink ankle-deep. A string of different crescents make up the beach – one is perfect as a natural wading pool for wee ones.
Endangered monk seals occasionally haul themselves out on the sand, and like the happy beachgoers, soak up the sun as cooling trade winds blow.
(Kauai also has no shortage of great hotels – you can read our reviews of five top Kauai hotels, all of which we’ve stayed at.)
More beach love!
Check out the best beaches in Puerto Vallarta.
Are any of your favorite beaches on our list of the prettiest beaches in the world?
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We’re Janice and George Mucalov, professional award-winning travel writers, sharing tales of luxury travel with a twist of adventure.