Winter is almost halfway in the Northern Hemisphere, and the freezing cold and gray skies make most of us long for a retreat on a beautiful beach. But is it possible to rank the best beaches in the world? Of course not, since preferences will vary from traveler to traveler based on amenities, accessibility, swimming and water sports, safety, sense of place, relaxation and scenery. Nevertheless, because I have traveled well and put my feet in the sand of countless beaches around the world, I hereby present to you my list of the 10 most spectacular beaches in the world. From coral to sand and long to enclosed, it should come as no surprise that most of these beaches are in the world’s top beach destinations. Unfortunately, these beaches are not (anymore) secret and you will have to share their incredible beauty with many other travelers. If tranquility is a must, consider swapping the beaches below for one of the world’s most beautiful (semi-) private hotel beaches or opting to stay in one of the world’s most exclusive private island resorts.
1. OTHER BRON D’ARGENT, SEYCHELLES
One of the most photographed beaches in the world, the dazzling white sands of Anse Source d’Argent unfurls over La Digue, one of the 115 islands that make us this paradise archipelago in the Indian Ocean. The beach shines against a backdrop of huge granite boulders carried by time and weather. An offshore reef provides protection against ocean waves, making the turquoise water an ideal place for swimming. Keep an eye out for endangered birds and giant tortoises!
2. POLIHALE BEACH, HAWAII, USA.
Polihale is without doubt the most breathtakingly beautiful beach in the Hawaiian archipelago. Located a few miles from the nearest town, this seemingly desolate stretch of 11 km (7 miles) on the west side of Kauai, one of the world’s most scenic islands, exudes an enchanting and mystical atmosphere, which still lives in Hawaii. The beach can only be reached via a poorly marked, unpaved sugarcane road, making a four-wheel drive vehicle preferable (check with your car rental company for restrictions before heading out).
3. CAMPS BAY, CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
Cape Town is at the top of my list of the world’s most beautiful cities, not least because of the beautiful beaches on your doorstep. Camps Bay is not only Cape Town’s most popular beach, but also the only city beach to be in this top 10 list. With dazzling white sand against the majestic backdrop of the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range and Table Mountain, Camps Bay’s waters are a bit chilly due to the currents in the Atlantic Ocean, but that won’t distract you from the amazing surrounding scenery and world- famous sunsets.
4. MAYA BAY, KOH PHI PHI, THAILAND
Maya Bay is a stunningly beautiful, sheltered bay on Koh Phi Phi in Thailand. With a ring of white sand surrounded by mangroves and towering limestone walls covered in dense foliage, it’s easy to see why director Danny Boyle chose this beach for cult favorite The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The main beach in the bay is about 200m long and has silky white sand, with colorful underwater corals and exotic fish in exceptionally clear water.
5. LONG BEACH, VANCOUVER ISLAND, CANADA
It’s not just tropical beaches whose breathtaking beauty can leave you speechless. The best example is Long Beach, the longest sandy beach on Vancouver Island in Canada, with breathtaking views and unparalleled maritime wilderness. Located within the boundaries of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve between Tofino and Ucluelet, the 10 miles (16 km) of pristine sand is backed by lush rainforests and washed by cool pounding surf. Twenty thousand gray whales migrate along this coast every spring and summer.
6. BAIA DO SANCHO, FERNANDO DE NORONHO, BRAZIL
Baio Do Sancho is located on the remote island of Fernando de Noronha, an active volcanic archipelago of 21 islands in the Atlantic Ocean, about 350 kilometers off the coast of Brazil’s northeastern bay. Sparkling emerald green water and soft white sand are surrounded by 75-meter-high vegetation-covered cliffs. The beach can only be reached by boat or on foot on a dirt road through a crack in a rock wall with several dozen uneven, smooth sandblasts. The beach is perfect for snorkeling and spotting rays.