K.C. was a featured writer for Yahoo! Travel before joining trips to discover in 2013. She is the author of Best Travel Guide for First Time Visitors to Ireland, an Amazon bestseller every year between 2013 and 2016. She has been a featured expert on Newsweek, Travel + Leisure, Travelocity, among others.
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Who doesn’t love vacationing on the beach? A trip to the sand and the sea is one of the best stress relievers there is, but if you’re not sure which beach to go to, you might want to include one of these in your getaway plan.
A top destination in Bermuda, Horseshoe Bay Beach is a long curved stretch of pale pink sand set against brilliant blue Atlantic waters on the island of Bermuda. It is the island’s most popular beach, and one of the most photographed in the world, you might think it would be impossible to find your own special spot on the sand, but thankfully it is large enough to absorb the crowds. And, it even features secluded coves that are ideal for romance, including wedding ceremonies. It’s most alluring during the early morning hours before cruise passengers arrive, a time when you might even be able to enjoy it all to yourself.
Shoal Bay on the Caribbean island of Anguilla offers the opportunity to live out your own tropical beach fantasy. It features powdery white sands at the edge of crystal clear jade waters that are filled with colorful fish and coral gardens that are perfect for diving or snorkeling. Although it’s one of the most popular beaches on this small island nation and offers lots of activities, because it’s two miles long, it never really gets crowded. Visitors can also enjoy dining and drinking in one of the many eateries and bars that fringe the shores, renting an umbrella and sun lounger for the day, or just stretching out underneath a coconut palm and taking a pleasant snooze.
Flamenco Beach, located on Culebra Island off the northeast coast of Puerto Rico, looks as if it stepped out of a commercial for Corona. One of the best beaches in Puerto Rico, it doesn’t offer any luxury resorts or high-end restaurants along its sands, but the U-shaped cove does boast pristine white sands, warm turquoise waters, swaying palms, a tranquil lagoon and lush vegetation. There are no crowds or traffic, and the shallow, calm water is ideal for swimming and snorkeling. The beach, and the island itself, can thank its unspoiled and undeveloped state in part to the US military. It was used as a gunnery range for decades, keeping developers at bay while leaving the sands with only abandoned tanks which can be seen now artfully decorated in Caribbean patterns.
One of the most photographed beaches in the world, Trunk Bay looks like it was created for postcards. It sits in the northwestern corner of the Virgin Islands National Park against a backdrop of swaying palms and shady sea-grape trees. Its soft sands and shallow, clear cerulean waters, boasting a 225-yard-long Underwater Trail for outstanding snorkeling, make it one of the most sought-after for beach-goers across the globe, as do the winding hiking trails that lead up through the surrounding greenery, filled with the ruins of historic sugar cane plantations.
Waipio Valley Beach is nestled in the spectacularly beautiful valley of the same name on the northeast coast of the Big Island. Often described as a kind of “Shangri-La,” it’s almost cut off completely from the outside world, which means it’s one of the hardest to get to in all of Hawaii. The one-mile-wide valley dissects the Kohala Mountains and is challenging to reach due to steep cliffs on three landward sides, and powerful waves on the other that make it just as unapproachable from the sea. You’ll need to hike down a treacherously narrow, steep road to reach it, but once you’re there, you’ll be rewarded with this mile-long, volcanic black sand beach bordered by towering 2,000-foot cliff walls backed by dense rainforest. The Waiulili and Kaluahine waterfalls cut into the cliffs at the beach’s south end, adding to its breathtaking allure.
Rainbow Beach is a tiny town at the base of the Inskip Peninsula, a three-hour drive north of Brisbane on the Sunshine Coast, as well as a beach with over 70 different colors in its sands. Nestled between Fraser Island, Great Sandy National Park and the glistening expanse of the Pacific Ocean, it offers an idyllic getaway for beach lovers, eco-tourists, fishermen, campers and those wishing to simply relax. The hues are a clandestine combination of erosion and iron oxide buildup that’s been occurring since the last ice age – though ancient Aboriginal legend says that it’s the result of the rainbow spirit falling onto the large beachside cliffs after losing a battle over a beautiful woman. You can see the most brilliant colors by walking south from the surf club along the beach for 1.25 miles to the start of the towering cliffs of colored sands, ideally at low tide.
Jaw-dropping views of the rugged, jungle peaks of neighboring Phi Phi Leh island, incredible snorkeling, and a peaceful, laid-back vibe contribute to the overall allure of Long Beach. The perfect beach to escape the crowds, it can be reached with a five-minute boat trip from Tonsai Village and is known for having some of the softest, finest white sand on an island with many soft sand beaches, as well as offering excellent snorkeling. You won’t have to swim very far out to view colorful fish in their underwater habitat, and at Shark Point, about 700 feet out, you’ll see blacktip reef sharks darting about, particularly in the early morning hours.
Los Roques is an archipelago of more than 350 islands – and, really, no matter which one you choose, you’ll be blinded with white sand on exceptionally stunning beaches and shallow, tropical waters filled with a wealth of marine life, including a coral reef home to some of the most breathtaking underwater fauna and flora in the Caribbean. Cayo de Agua stands out as the best of the best among beautiful beaches and was named among the Top 5 in the world by TripAdvisor. You’ve never seen a sand bar this amazing, with clear, warm blue water, striking white sand and hardly another person in sight.
Hot Water Beach has a hidden secret. Located along the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula on the North Island, it offers a very unique New Zealand experience to visitors who are let in on it, and know to bring shovels and arrive within two hours of low tide. This is when you can dig your very own natural spa bath right in the sand, and relax inside the warm, soothing springs, enjoying the hot water that bubbles through the golden sands – until the tide comes up and the waves wash away the fun that is.
On this incredibly remote and stunning island that sits nearly halfway to New Zealand, you’ll find one of the most magnificent stretches of sand on the planet. Located on the east side of Lord Howe Island between Blinky Point and a promontory known as Mutton Bird Lookout, the fantasy-like beach features the requisite powdery white sands and azure waters. It’s one of the best places in the entire country to ride some uncrowded waves or enjoy a refreshing swim, while the unspoiled beach is a wonderful place for a relaxing picnic.
Galapagos Beach at Tortuga Bay on the island of Santa Cruz is considered not only one of the most spectacular beaches in the Galapagos Islands, but in all of South America. It’s an ideal place for swimming or just lounging on the whitest sands you’ve ever seen while watching sea turtles, marine iguanas, sea lions, pelicans, lava gulls and flamingos, which are endemic to the islands and commonly spotted along the shores.
The 37-mile-long Assateague Island National Seashore sits upon a small, serene island off Virginia’s coast. It was made famous by a children’s book and draws all ages for the opportunity to see the wild ponies that trot across the sands, through the forests and salt marshes. Every year at the end of July, the animals are rounded up to swim across the channel, creating an unforgettable spectacle. Bird watchers are drawn here too, as it is a haven with over 320 species of birds, including herons, osprey, egrets and peregrine falcons.