The most beautiful beaches in the world

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Rounding up the most jaw-dropping beaches on Earth

Travel is about dreaming, and nowhere makes us dream more than a beautiful beach. When we think of a beach vacation, we picture white sand, beach umbrellas, and beautiful scenery. But beaches can be beautiful in all forms and climates. Who would have thought that one of the most striking beaches on Earth can be found in Iceland? Or how about a beach surrounded by a medieval village like one we stumbled upon in Spain?

From South Africa to the Bahamas, and New Zealand to the Galápagos, we have had the pleasure of witnessing some of the most jaw-dropping beaches in the world, taken long sunset walks on them, and sat on their shores watching wildlife play before our eyes.

Each beach is unique and has its own reason for being one of our personal favorites, but the one common thread for all is that they are breathtaking. A beach holiday takes us away from all our worries, and as we bask in the sun and listen to the ocean, we literally feel the stress melting away. 

As winter approaches, we know you’ll be dreaming of warmer climates, so we’ve rounded up our photographs of the most beautiful beaches we’ve ever seen.

Oamaru, New Zealand

Oamaru, New Zealand

New Zealand is filled with deserted beaches. We camped our way through the South Island, and each evening, we had the pleasure of setting up our tent beside an incredible beach. While New Zealand beaches could be a photo story unto itself, it was this picture of an unnamed beach near Oamaru that always sticks out in our memory. We had just finished setting up our tents when the sky burst into a display of flaming color. We ran to the edge of our camp to quickly snap shots of this memorable scene.

Exuma Cays, Bahamas

Exuma Cays, Bahamas

We had been to the Bahamas once before on a four-day cruise, but our only view of the island nation was Paradise Island and the capital city, Nassau. When visiting the Exumas, a half-hour flight away, we could not believe the transformation before our eyes. The Exuma Cays are one of the most picturesque locations we have ever seen. They are postcard perfect and remind us of the images we’ve seen of the Maldives or Tahiti. Imagine having perfection like this right off the coast of the United States. Even better, most of the beaches are completely void of people, so you will have them all to yourself.

Jökulsárlón, Iceland

Jökulsárlón, Iceland

Iceland is a polar country, but it has an endless rugged coastline. There are spectacular sea cliffs, sea arches, and sandy beaches. But it’s the beach at Jökulsárlón that stands out in our memory. Located just outside a glacier lagoon, this beach is cluttered with broken icebergs that have run aground on the shore. It’s awe-inspiring to see giant chunks of ice living out their days on the deserted beach.

Fiji

Fiji

Fiji is a dream destination, and when we were invited to enjoy all the adventure activities of the main island, we couldn’t believe our luck. It’s that beach destination that you see in all the magazines and drool over. And we drooled over our beach directly in front of our suite. Each evening, after a day of adventure, we looked forward to quiet time on our very own secluded oasis.

Napili Beach, Hawaii

Napili Beach, Hawaii

A beach photo roundup would not be complete without a mention of Hawaii. There are so many beautiful beaches there that it’s difficult to choose a favorite. While we loved the endless sand of Paia on Maui and the private coves on Lanai, we chose Napili Beach near Napili Kai Beach Resort on Maui for its authentic Hawaiian ambiance and perfect crescent shape.

The Gold Coast, Australia

The Gold Coast, Australia

It’s home to Surfers Paradise, and this never-ending beach is lined with skyscrapers and shops for as far as the eye can see. While many of the most beautiful beaches we mention are secluded or deserted, the Gold Coast of Australia gets our vote because of its massive urban setting. We loved our morning walks from our ocean-view suite to the pedestrian street in the heart of the action each day. Even though the beach lines the city, it is so huge that it feels deserted in most places. The Gold Coast has the best of both worlds—surfing, sand, and sun mixed with fine dining, nightlife, and shopping. Who could ask for more?

Koh Lipe, Thailand

Koh Lipe, Thailand

Thailand probably has the best beaches in the world. There’s a reason people flock to this friendly country in Southeast Asia. What make beaches in Thailand stand out are the karst formations that jut out of the Andaman Sea, creating a scattered mountainous landscape. Phra Nang Beach used to be on our most beautiful beach list, but now it is overrun with day-trippers from neighboring islands, and the beauty is lost due to the crowds. If you make your way farther south, you’ll find the island of Koh Lipe that probably has the whitest sandy beaches we have ever seen, and it’s still quiet enough that you’ll feel a hint of privacy.

Zanzibar, Tanzania

Zanzibar, Tanzania

When we first laid eyes on the beaches of Zanzibar, our jaws literally dropped. Never had we seen such layers of white sand, turquoise water, and green algae. At low tide, fishing boats rest on the ocean floor and locals hunt for mussels and clams. Nowhere else has such blue water, at least from what we have seen. The beaches are a stark contrast to the city. The city is a maze of stone walls protected by thick wooden doors. A walk through town is an interesting historic stroll, but after the heat of all that cement, you’ll yearn to be back in paradise near the sapphire water.

Simon’s Town, South Africa

Simon’s Town, South Africa

Staying on the continent of Africa, we head to South Africa to explore the picturesque beach of Simon’s Town. We love this beach because of the boulders and sand, but most importantly, we love the resident penguins that bask on the shore. How can you not include a beautiful beach filled with the cutest animals on Earth? A boardwalk weaves through their habitat protecting them from intrusion, but onlookers can get a good view of their life in the water.

Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

There isn’t one beach in the Galápagos that stands out above the rest. They are all spectacular. What makes the beaches of the Galápagos so perfect? It’s the fact that nobody is on them. Many beaches can only be reached by boat, and once you are there, you have them all to yourself. The Galápagos Islands are located on the equator, so the sun is excruciatingly hot. A reprieve from the heat is a must, and the cool waters of the Pacific instantly wash away the sweat. Going for a walk may lead you to an iguana or a sea lion—you never know what you’ll come across. The Galápagos have the most unique wildlife in the world, and because they are a nature preserve, there is plenty to see.

Tossa de Mar, Spain

Tossa de Mar, Spain

Spain is full of stunning beaches, but it was this one in Costa Brava that really caught our eye because of how unique it is. I have not been to any other place where you can walk in the sand and take a dip in the sea right beside a castle. In the seaside town of Tossa de Mar, you can do just that. Stroll along the beach, take a dip, enjoy great seafood, and visit a castle all in one afternoon.

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The Planet D

Dave and Deb wrapped up their tenure as Expedia Viewfinder bloggers at the end of 2015. They continue to inspire adventure in everyone. They've spent 8 of their 15 years of marriage exploring more than 100 countries on all 7 continents inspiring their international audience to follow their dreams and push their boundaries. Dave and Deb prove that ordinary people can live extraordinary lives. As spokespeople and brand ambassadors, The Planet D have had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s top companies and have spoken around the globe about pursuing passion and what it takes to make it happen.They've appeared regularly on TV and have been featured in such publications as The National Post, BBC Travel, and National Geographic.

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