1. Port Vila, Vanuatu
Vanuatu was once named the happiest place on Earth, and with beaches near the capital of Port Vila
that look like this, it’s easy to see why. Hammocks, white sand, and serene shore—that’s what beach life looks like on this Pacific archipelago.
2. Cable Beach, Broome, Australia
Western Australia’s Cable Beach
equals 14 miles of postcard-perfect white sand and turquoise sea. Jump on a camel (yes, a camel) at sunset for an iconic experience, or walk south to the nearby red dunes of Minyirr Park—it’s a spiritual place for the Yawuru people.
3. Palawan, Philippines
Imagine tree-topped limestone monoliths breaking through ultramarine waters. Picture a warming sun beating down on fine, white sand with a gentle breeze lapping at the shore. Now put yourself in the middle of that scene, effortlessly kayaking around your own private bay, and you’ve discovered the Philippine province of Palawan
4. Papagayo Beach, Lanzarote, Spain
Lanzarote’s Papagayo Beach
looks like the most enticing moon crater ever. The rocky red headland and emerald green water make this spot more colorful than a Hockney painting. The bay is sheltered, meaning the Atlantic water is super calm and clear for snorkeling. (P.S. Did you know that the whole of Lanzarote is a UNESCO biosphere reserve?)
5. Sihanoukville, Cambodia
The Cambodian province of Sihanoukville
is home to the kind of relaxed, sandy bays where you never have to leave your beach chair. Sprawled out under a leafy palm tree, Khmer ladies walk the shore offering fresh seafood, fruit, souvenirs, and massages. Mix the sunny weather with budget-friendly food and accommodation, and you can see why Cambodia’s beaches are daydream-worthy.
6. Gold Beach, Oregon, United States
It’s wild, it’s beautiful, and it’s in the United States. Oregon might not be the first place that comes to mind when you’re daydreaming about a beach holiday, but, well, just look at it. Gold Beach
is a popular wildlife-watching spot, too: Look out for elk, deer, beavers, otters, eagles, and osprey while you’re there.
7. Caye Caulker, Belize
is the most popular of Belize’s 200-plus islands, and for good reason. The people are friendly; the atmosphere is so chill that you’ll see the sign “No shirt, no shoes, no problem” almost everywhere; the snorkeling and diving opportunities at the Blue Hole reef are second to none; and the weather’s amazing.
8. Montego Bay, Jamaica
With hundreds of miles of Caribbean coastline, it’s easy to see why Jamaica attracts sun worshippers. Doctor’s Cave beach is a particularly sweet spot, stretching for 200 meters along Montego Bay
. Bring a snorkel and keep a lookout for the local turtles, stingrays, and parrot fish while you swim.
9. Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
It may just be the most happening patch of sand on the planet. The 2.2-mile long Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro
is a hive of activity: Join in a game of soccer with the locals near Rua Santa Clara, check out the fisherman’s colony next to Forte de Copacabana, and then gorge yourself on empanadas, sacolé
, and queijo coalho
from any of the numerous street-food vendors along the beach before watching the sunset from the rocks at Pedra do Arpoador.n
10. San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Surf by day, party by night—the town of San Juan del Sur
is Nicaragua’s top beach hub. Whether you’re a pro surfer or just learning to paddle, you’re likely to catch a suitable wave within a short distance of town. Playa Maderas is the most popular spot, with consistent swell that caters to everyone from beginners to experts. If you’re nervous about the lineup, head out to Playa Hermosa or Playa Remanso where the sets are less crowded and the locals more forgiving if you drop in on them.
11. Kašuni Beach, Split, Croatia
Two miles from downtown Split
, on the south side of Marjan hill, Kašuni is a beautiful pebble-sand bay surrounded by forest, hills, and sea. More low-key than nearby Bačvice Beach, Kašuni is relatively chill even in the height of summer.
12. Baga Beach, Goa, India
Legendary for once being the end of the old “Hippie Trail” in the ‘70s, today most of the original adventurers have moved on from Goa, but their free spirits live on in places like Baga Beach
. If you want to party all night and hang out on the beach all day, Baga is your place.