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If you’re not the kind of person who enjoys being packed in like sardines on a beach, struggling to find a spot to throw down your towel, the world’s most uncrowded beaches may be worth planning an entire trip around. Look forward to a peaceful oasis while enjoying magnificent scenery with everything from wild, driftwood-strewn beaches edged by roaring waves to soft white sandy stretches with shallow turquoise waters for swimming. No matter what your style, you’re sure to find an uncrowded beach on this list that fits the bill.
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Old Settlement Beach - Lord Howe Island, Australia
One of the world’s most stunning and remote islands lies off the coast of Australia nearly halfway to New Zealand. Most here get around by bicycle, and with only a tiny native population and tourists limited to just 400 at any one time, it’s remained wonderfully unspoiled. The lush UNESCO-protected site featuring towering basalt-stack mountains that plunge directly into the sea, a vibrant coral reef lagoon for snorkeling, and at Old Settlement Beach, turtles that lounge around on the sand. It’s a great place to relax while gazing out at the scenery or reading a good book as you soak up the sunshine.
Baia do Sancho - Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
Protected from tourism development and a bit challenging to access, Baia do Sancho is one of the best beaches in Brazil. It offers an especially tranquil spot in the Fernando de Noronha archipelago, 220 miles off the Brazilian coast. Framed by emerald cliffs, it’s the ideal stretch for enjoying the sun while relaxing as well as taking advantage of crystal-clear aquamarine waters for swimming. The sea is abundant with marine life, including manta rays and dolphins, the latter of which can often be spotted from the shore.
Inisheer Island, Ireland
The smallest and most peaceful of the Aran Islands that lie off west coast of Ireland, Inisheer has a population of only around 250. Its main beach, a sandy white stretch that you’ll see to your left as you arrive by ferry, is framed by crystal-clear turquoise waters that look as if it should be in the Caribbean. While summer temperatures do warm it a bit, dipping your toes in will tell you that you aren’t in the tropics. Still it’s good for a cool, refreshing swim on a pleasant day as well as tranquil strolls, with crowds virtually unheard of here. Keep an eye out for the local dolphin “Sandy,” that frequently makes an appearance.
Smuggler's Cove - Tortola, British Virgin Islands
One of the best beaches in the Virgin Islands, Smuggler’s Cove is a secluded stretch of idyllic sands located at the westernmost end of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. As it’s more difficult to get to than other beaches on the island, it helps to keep the crowds away, accessed by an unpaved road. Once there, you’ll be able to enjoy tranquility among the palms, lounging on the soft sand, watching for sea turtles and taking occasional dips in the warm clear blue waters. If you’ve got snorkel gear, you’ll be able to view plenty of colorful fish and coral too.
Dry Tortugas, Florida
The Dry Tortugas are made up of seven little islands that sit about 70 miles off the coast of Florida, accessed by boat from Key West, ideal for a day trip. In Dry Tortuga National Park, you’ll find a historic abandoned fort and pristine white sand beaches without the crowds. When you want to do more than relax, enjoy snorkeling in the clear, calm waters that are inhabited with lots of colorful fish and living coral, right from the beach near the fort.
Cayo de Agua - Los Roques, Venezuela
An archipelago of more than 350 islands, no matter which one you choose to visit in Los Roques, you’ll be blinded with striking white sands. One of the world’s most remote islands, the beaches here are edged by shallow, tropical waters filled with marine life, including a coral reef that’s home to some of the most impressive underwater fauna and flora in the Caribbean. Cayo de Agua, in particular, is a standout, named among the world’s Top 5 most beautiful beaches by TripAdvisor. The sand bar is a sight to see with the surreal pale blue waters contrasted against the stark white sand while hardly another person is in sight.
Motukiekie Beach - South Island, New Zealand
There’s plenty of wilderness to be discovered in New Zealand, including often empty stretches of rugged coast on the South Island. Just a half-hour south of the popular Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki Beach near Barrytown, Motukiekie Beach is rarely visited and features sea stacks rising from the waves just offshore while waterfalls cascade down the cliffs. A walk along this beach even brings the opportunity for encounters with tiny blue penguins.
Long Beach - Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
Long Beach is the ideal beach for escaping the crowds in Thailand, providing some of the finest soft white sands located a five-minute boat ride from Tonsai Village. Enjoy the laid-back vibe, gazing out at the jungle peaks of neighboring Phi Phi Leh island, and outstanding snorkeling too. There’s no need to swim out very far as a wide range of tropical fish can be viewed underwater just offshore, and in the early morning hours at about 700 feet out at Shark Point, you can watch the black tip reef sharks that dart about.
Palm Beach, Barbuda
While Antigua is a busy island filled with tourists and hotels, her sister island Barbuda, just a 20-minute flight away, was made for solitude-seekers. Considered one of the best in the Caribbean for escaping the crowds, just 1,200 call it home. It’s the kind of place where you’ll truly appreciate having nothing to do but enjoy the quiet powder sugar-like sands and endless turquoise waters. There are lots of options, although Palm Beach is particularly ideal with unique patches of pink sands while being pristine and isolated.
Black Sands Beach - Shelter Cove, California
Located in Northern California about 230 miles north of San Francisco, Black Sands Beach lies along the rugged Lost Coast, stretching for three-and-a-half miles. It’s a rare gem in a state filled with golden sands, and as it’s so secluded, you’ll probably see more wildlife than people. The surf is too powerful and cold for swimming, but you can watch for the many seals and sea lions that frequent the shore and gray whales that pass by from September through January, and again between March and June. Collect sand dollars during low tide and peer into the tide pools, filled with all sorts of marine creatures like starfish and hermit crabs.
Reynisfjara Beach - Vik, Iceland
Reynisfjara, or Vik Beach, located near the small town of Vik on Iceland’s south coast, has been named one of the world’s most beautiful non-tropical beaches, with spectacular rock formations that rise out of the sea just offshore, including the Trolls of Vik. Legend tells that they were formed when trolls attempted to drag three ships ashore. While it’s become a popular stop on tours of the south coast, visits are usually brief, leaving it empty much of the time.
Shi Shi Beach, Washington
Remote Shi Shi Beach is nestled along the rugged Olympic coast, a remote stretch that’s frequently ranked as one of the most beautiful on the planet. Wild and rugged, it requires a four-mile hike out and back to reach it, but you’ll be rewarded with spectacular natural beauty and seclusion. The sandy beach is dotted with gnarled logs, bleached and battered by the surf, while waves violently crash against the sea stacks just offshore and bald eagles soar overhead. The last stretch of the trail is Point of Arches where the sea stacks tower out of the water for a mile or more. Look forward to exploring tide pools at low tide, searching for starfish, hermit crabs, anemones and other marine creatures.
Polihale Beach, Kauai
Polihale is a seven-mile stretch of pale golden sands at the westernmost end of Kauai with sand dunes that rise as high as 100 feet while the magnificent Na Pali cliffs come into view. The sunniest spot on the island, it’s also one of the most remote beaches, accessed by a long dirt road. As the currents are strong, snorkeling and surfing are generally not recommended, but it’s a wonderful place to enjoy a picnic and hang out under the rays of the sun for the afternoon.
La Pastora - Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico
If you’ve only visited Cabo, you might assume that all the beaches in Baja are jam-packed with partiers during the tourist season, but just an hour north along the Pacific coast in Todos Santos, the golden sands stretch for miles and oftentimes you can enjoy it all to yourself or at most only a handful of others. From around mid-December through mid-March, watch for the humpback whale and gray whales that pass by, that latter of which often come as close as the powerful waves. While the surf is too rough for swimming, the sand is ideal for walking and jogging, while the sunsets are the perfect way to end the day.