Start planning now for your sand-in-your-pants tour of the world’s most amazing beaches. You’ve put off your tan long enough…
By Doug Wallace
Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Islands
Reachable by boat tour or helicopter, this seven-kilometre strip of fine, white-silica sand consistently makes the world’s top-10 lists. The sand is so fine, it feels like you’re walking on cornstarch and makes a squeaking sound. It comes courtesy of an ancient underwater volcano, around which two tectonic plates are grinding together, creating a constant supply of new silica that floats to the surface. There’s not much to do here except soak up the beautiful view, swim and read a book, but you’ll be hard-pressed not to feel like you’re in a Bond film. Watch for stingers: tour companies will provide you with full-body stinger suits, the wearing of which is your IG shot of the day.
Matira Beach, Bora Bora
The largest public beach in Bora Bora is very popular, and for good reason: it is beyond gorgeous and never very crowded. All the tourists seem to be at their own beaches, so you can splash around in crystal-clear blue water, quite shallow and calm. Boat tours can take you out to visit a “fever” of very tame stingrays who roam this southern tip of the lagoon. You can wander the hiking trails or pop into the shops, and restaurants are all close at hand, so going for the whole day is easy and breezy. If you’re not staying within walking distance, the beach is five miles south of Vaitape, where you get a bicycle or find a taxi.
Jericoacoara Beach, Ceará
What was once just a fishing village with no electricity is now a relaxed tourist town, big with weekenders, honeymooners and clusters of college kids, a magnet for wind- and kite-surfing on Brazil’s north coast. It’s a bit of a trek and there’s not much to do – but that’s the point. After you’ve taken the requisite photos of the famous Pedra Furada seaside rock formation, you can go 4x4ing with a dune buggy and driver, take a surfing lesson, rent a sand board or throw back a few caipirinhas. Everyone congregates on the giant Sunset Dune to watch for that green flash when the sun disappears, then wanders into town for steaks.
VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
Petit St. Vincent
This 115-acre island south of Union Island in the Grenadines chain is a private luxury resort, so guests have the run of the place, including the white-sand beach. It pretty much rings the whole island – straddling the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea. PSV doesn’t even bother with a swimming pool, instead steering guests towards wind-surfing, kayaking, paddleboarding and sailing. There are a ton of snorkelling opportunities, particularly on the Atlantic side of the island, where the reef is more extensive. The five-star Jean-Michel Cousteau Caribbean Diving Center – one of two in the world – is a big draw.
Maundays Bay, West End
Sheltered, shallow, peaceful and pleasant, this hallowed semi-circle of powdered sand on the westernmost tip of the island is the best of Anguilla’s 33 beaches. With clear, blue water and not many waves, it’s like a little beach isthmus between the bay and the inner salt ponds. There are beach bars to hit, food pop-ups to support and resorts to check into, including the five-star Cap Juluca, a Belmond resort. Set your sights on sailing and snorkelling and paddling, or pondering the million shades of blue.
Horseshoe Bay, South Shore Park
Pink sand, cerulean water, a chair and an umbrella, and you’re set for the day at this popular but not-too-crowded Bermudan beach. The dramatic surrounding rock formations feature little caves and coves to explore. There’s also a series of smaller, hidden beaches – one in fact called Hidden Beach – that you can stumble upon along the sand dune trails. Don’t forget to work in tuna burgers at Rum Bum Beach Bar at the west end.
Balos Beach, Gramvousa
On the Gramvousa peninsula in western Crete near Kissamos lies Balos Beach, one of the finest in the Mediterranean. It has all the exotic appeal you’d expect of the Greek islands, pink and white sand, vivid blue-green water, natural surroundings. The beach hugs a natural lagoon, all warm and shallow. This is a great place to moor your yacht in the morning to enjoy some peace and quiet before the ferries arrive. Speaking of which, go only in the shoulder season: July and August see robust crowds.
Blue Lagoon, Ölüdeniz
One of the most famous stretches of sand in the world is tucked within the southwest coast of Turkey inside Ölüdeniz Nature Park. Two different things are going on here: Belcekiz Beach and the Blue Lagoon beside it, supported by the resort village of Ölüdeniz. Here where the Aegean Sea meets the Mediterranean, you can soak up the hypnotic sunshine playing on the water and the almost surreal colours, before paragliding from the top of Babadag mountain.
Dalawella Beach, Unawatuna
This palm-tree studded, white-sand paradise on the southern coast of Sri Lanka – a.k.a. Wijaya Beach – is well worth the two-hour drive south from Colombo. There are rocks to climb and a famous rope swing to channel Tarzan with, with little beach restaurants to hit. Dozens of little villas and bungalows make this a lovely week-long break from trekking through parts of the country, a vacation within a vacation.
DOUG WALLACE is the editor and publisher of travel resource and podcast TravelRight.Today.