The 39 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World

From a sublime stretch of remote Scottish coastline to the euphoria-inducing sands of Tulum in Mexico, these breathtaking beaches alone are worth the journey

Sea stacks silhouetted at sunset during low tide at Cannon Beach on the Northern Oregon Coast.Photo: Getty Images

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Aside from a coastline filled with natural rock formations, Cannon Beach also plays host to tufted puffins that nest on Haystack Rock in the spring and summer months.

Image may contain Nature Cave Shoreline Water Outdoors Ocean Sea Coast Cove and LandPhoto: Getty Images

La Playa Escondida, Mexico

This majestic hidden beach looks as though the lush grounds of Mexico were peeled back to reveal a small cavern of turquoise water and a white sand beach. The area is only accessible by swimming through an underwater tunnel, making this destination even more special.

a thin strip of sand and dark calm water behind itPhoto: Getty Images

Usedom Island, Germany

While Germany may be a surprising place to find a beach at all, Usedom Island is a sunny spot in the Baltic Sea filled with picturesque seaside towns and naturally wild beaches.

palm trees and people dotting a whitesand beachPhoto: Getty Images

Hanauma Bay, Hawaii

This protected beach is now a nature preserve and a Marine Life Conservation District, due to the impact of tourist traffic in years past. The area is closed to visitors on Tuesdays to allow fish to feed freely without interruption.

Race Point lighthouse and salt marsh in the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts.Photo: Getty Images

Race Point Beach, Provincetown, Massachusetts

This quintessential New England beach has been the scene of more than 3,000 shipwrecks. The sandbars that sit several hundred yards off the coast would cause ships to run aground and break to pieces before reaching its destination.

a huge piece of bleached driftwood on a beachPhoto: Getty Images

Driftwood Beach, Georgia

Located on the north end of Jekyll Island, Driftwood Beach got its name from it’s driftwood-filled shoreline, which came from trees that have fallen into the ocean due to erosion. This particular beach is a popular site for photographers looking to capture an eerie image of the “tree graveyard.”

a cypress tree on rocks overlooking the oceanPhoto: Getty Images

Pebble Beach, California

Follow the scenic 17-mile drive between Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea to experience the coastal hills and sandy beaches of Pebble Beach.

a whitesand beach with clear ocean water and a hill with treesPhoto: Getty Images

Anse Intendance, Seychelles

Set up against a lush mountain backdrop, Anse Intendance is located on the largest island in the Seychelles, Mahé.

white sandy beaches at the bottom of undulating hillsidesPhoto: Getty Images

Sardinia Emerald Coast, Italy

Named for its emerald-green waters, the Emerald Coast beaches are the epicenter of any Italian holiday. The area is surrounded by luxurious shops and hotels, but leave time to explore one of Sardinia’s famous stone towers that date back as far as 3500 BC.

a shipwreck on an isolated beach with cliffs on all sidesPhoto: Getty Images

Navagio Beach, Greece

Navagio Beach is nicknamed “Shipwreck Beach” for the rusted ship named Panagiotis that crashed on its shore, which was thought to be smuggling cigarettes. The iconic image of a ship run ashore quickly drew tourists to the stunning coastline.

Eagle rock basalt sea stack on the Black sand beachPhoto: Getty Images

Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland

Deviating from the powdery white sand beaches of the Mediterranean, the black pebbly shores of Reynisfjara Beach are accented by the sea stacks towering just off the break.

Palmlined white sand beachPhoto: Getty Images

Nacpan Beach, El Nido, Philippines

Located on the island of Palawan, Nacpan Beach is a secluded stretch of coastline in El Nido just a stone’s throw from the Nagkalit-kalit Waterfalls. The tropical beach is famous for its cream-hued sand and crystal-clear shallow waters that make kayaking a stunning experience.

a rock formation with a hole in the middle in the oceanPhoto: Getty Images

Pfeiffer Beach, California

The famous Keyhole Arch is the most recognizable landmark on the wild shores of Pfeiffer Beach, located in the lush beauty of Big Sur National Park. Though this beach can be hard to find, its seclusion makes it that much more desirable.

cliffs along the coastPhoto: Getty Images

Étretat Beach, France

This rocky beach may look eerily familiar as it served as inspiration for impressionist painters such as Monet, Manet, and Boudin. The beach is best known for its variety of natural rock formations, including the most famous, “L’Aiguille,” meaning “the needle.”

Image may contain Outdoors Nature Land Shoreline Water Ocean Sea Coast Island Beach Scenery and LandscapePhoto: Getty Images

Zlatni Rat, Brac, Croatia

Often referred to as the Golden Cape or Golden Horn for its unique shape, this Croatian island beach is one of the most popular destinations on the Adriatic Sea for sunbathers. Swimmers should be cautious as the tide is notoriously strong.

Image may contain Outdoors Nature Land Ocean Water Sea Shoreline Promontory Coast and PeninsulaPhoto: Getty Images

Coffee Bay, South Africa

This beautifully natural beach is seemingly untouched by the surrounding 250-person population. The bay received its name from the plethora of coffee trees that dot the area.

a rock formation that looks like a castle in the oceanPhoto: Getty Images

Essaouira, Morocco

This late 18th-century beach town is as historical as it is beautiful and has attracted creatives since its fortification. Fun fact: Jimi Hendrix is rumored to have written “Castles Made of Sand” about Essaouira.

the walls of an old building looking out to seaPhoto: Getty Images

Ibo Island, Mozambique

Likely the most remote beach on our list, Ibo Island is often referred to as “the edge of nowhere.” The tiny island has a rich history as a popular Muslim port, which was then fortified in the early 1600s by the Portuguese. Ruins from those times are still present on the beaches today.

a large crescent shaped beach with green cliff surrounding itPhoto: Getty Images

Baía do Sancho, Brazil

While enjoying the luminescent waters and ivory sand beaches, make sure to take notice of the extinct volcano, Morro do Pico, that sits just offshore along with subsequent rock formations.

a rocky beach with bright turquoise waterPhoto: Getty Images

Parque Tayrona, Colombia

This national park is a treasure on Colombia’s shores. While frequented by tourists, any local will be quick to recommend it. Parque Tayrona is one of the few protected beaches of the area and is known for its rainforest and palm tree–shaded beach.

a whitesand beach with ruins overlooking itPhoto: Getty Images

El Castillo Beach, Tulum, Mexico

Surrounded by ancient ruins, Tulum is the ideal destination for a balance of beach perfection and cultural enlightenment. In recent years, the area has become inundated with tourists, so to get the perfect spot under a palm tree, arrive no later than 8 a.m.

a blacksand beach with cliffs in the distancePhoto: Getty Images

Siorarsuit Beach, Greenland

While the shores of Greenland are not the ideal place to hang out in a bathing suit, the country is home to some of the most spectacular coastline in the world. The dark sand Siorarsuit Beach is located on Disko Island and has a panoramic view of the surrounding flat top mountains.

Image may contain Outdoors Nature Land Ocean Sea Water Shoreline Coast Vehicle Transportation Boat and PromontoryPhoto: Getty Images

White Beach, Boracay, Philippines

True to its name, the shores of White Beach are nearly translucent against the deep-blue ocean waters. Take relaxation to the next level and indulge in an inexpensive hour-long massage right there on the beach.

Entrance to Salinas Beach with walkway pines handmade swing and the Mediterranean Sea in the background with many vessel...Photo: Getty Images

Las Salinas, Ibiza, Spain

Located at the southern tip of the island is the vibrant Las Salinas beach, which is perfect for the tourist looking for a lively atmosphere. Should you want to explore your exhibitionist side, there is a quieter nude patch of beach just a short walk away.

Image may contain Land Outdoors Nature Shoreline Water Sea Ocean Coast and IslandPhoto: Getty Images

Kaiteriteri Beach, Nelson, New Zealand

The golden coastline of Kaiteriteri Beach is the entryway to New Zealand’s stunning Abel Tasman National Park. Whether looking to spend all day in the sun or mountain bike through one of the park’s famous trails, this beach has something for every visitor.

a remote sandy beach with hills and cliffs and plenty of white surfPhoto: Getty Images

Sandwood Bay Beach, Scotland

This remote beach does not have roads leading to its pristine shoreline—visitors have to hike five miles to catch a glimpse of its unspoiled beauty. The beach stretches a mere mile long and is the subject of many local legends due to its seclusion.

Tapuaetai Beach aerial shotPhoto: helivideo/Getty Images

Tapuaetai Beach (Cook Islands)

Nicknamed “One Foot Island,” Tapuaetai is part of the Cook Islands, and one of 22 islands within the Aitutaki atoll. The small islet is known for its powder-white sand beaches, turquoise water, and stunning views of the surrounding lagoon.

Anse Source d'Argent beach La Digue island Seychelles AfricaPhoto: Andrea Comi/Getty Images

Anse Source D’Argent (La Digue, Seychelles)

Besides gorgeous views, the most notable feature of Anse Source D’Argent is the giant granite boulders that jut out of the sand just inches from the shoreline. The beach is so picturesque that it is often used as a shooting location for advertising campaigns.

Monterosso al Mare Cinque TerrePhoto: Marius Roman/Getty Images 

Scoglio di Monterosso (Cinque Terre, Italy)

One of the five villages that makes up the Cinque Terre, Monterosso Al Mare has become increasingly popular among travelers as the only one with sand beaches large enough to spend a day splashing in the sea or tanning in the sun. One of Europe’s most famous beaches, azure blue water complements the colorful umbrellas that dot the landscape, all providing a striking contrast to the massive black rock formation that rises from the sea.

kauai napali coast aerial view from helicopterPhoto: Andrea Izzotti/Getty Images 

Tunnels Beach (Kauai, Hawaii)

Perhaps nowhere in the United States is as famous for its beautiful beaches as Hawaii. But when imagining the islands’ stunning natural beauty, many may unconsciously picture Tunnels Beach on Kauai, which is reportedly the most photographed beach in the state. Set on a crescent-shaped bay, the beach is known for its shelling, snorkeling, scuba diving, and other water sport opportunities.

Glass Beach near Fort Bragg California.Photo: Chris Domingo/Getty Images 

Glass Beach (Fort Bragg, California)

Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, California, demonstrates that even the most unattractive thing can be turned into something beautiful. The site along the Pacific Ocean was once a trash dump, but over time, the bottles and other glassware were broken down into colorful glass “sand.” Though sea glass is still abundant, the supply has diminished significantly over the years as people have taken pieces home, which is technically illegal.

Aerial view of Ipanema BeachPhoto: Getty Images 

Ipanema Beach (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Perhaps not as famous as Rio’s Copacabana, Ipanema Beach also received worldwide fame following the hit song “The Girl from Ipanema.” The chart-topping bossa nova record from the mid 1960s is partly responsible for the beach’s far-flung recognition, though the breathtaking natural beauty is also a notable factor.

The pink lagoon of ElafonissiPhoto: Evgeni Dinev Photography/Getty Images 

Elafonissi Beach (Crete, Greek)

There are certain colors you come to expect to see at beaches: blue from the water, white in the sand, maybe green from nearby palm trees. But at Elafonissi Beach in Crete, make sure to add rosy salmon to the list. The unique pink sand beaches are said to get their distinct coloring from Foraminifera shellfish, which leave behind red shells that are eventually crushed and mixed in with the sand.

Maya Bay Phi Phi IslandsPhoto: Jamie Monk/Getty Images 

Maya Bay (Phi Phi Ley, Thailand)

Sheltered by 328-foot cliffs, Maya Bay is one of the most popular beaches for a getaway in Thailand. The stunning spot, sparkling with soft white sand and clear blue waters, was also famously used in the film The Beach, which Leonardo DiCaprio starred in.

The Twelve Apostles Port Campbell National Park Victoria Australia. Sea limestone stacks at sunset.Photo: Marco Bottigelli/Getty Images 

The Twelve Apostles (Victoria, Australia)

Though there have only ever been nine limestone stacks—and there are currently only eight after one collapsed in 2005—these unique rock formations in Port Campbell National Park were named the Twelve Apostles for their notable proximity. The dramatic limestone cliffs were formed over millions of years through gradual erosion and are a stunning complement to the golden sand.

Via Architectural Digest

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