Many dream vacations involve lounging on a beach in the sunshine. There is nothing more relaxing than hearing the waves lapping lazily against the sandy shore while you get a tan. If that sounds like your idea of paradise, check out this list of the 25 most incredible beaches in the world to inspire your next big trip.
Venetico, Sicily, Italy
Venetico is a small, uncrowded city in Sicily where many families have lived at the edge of the sea for centuries, visiting the beach every day for generation upon generation. The water is a beautiful cerulean blue and the seemingly endless beach is covered in thousands of different types of colorful rocks and shells for you to collect as you stroll along the shoreline. On a clear day, you can see Mount Etna, Stromboli and several other volcanoes and islands across the water, and the only time the beach really gets crowded is in August, when the locals who have moved abroad come home for their summer vacation.
The Baths, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
This beautiful beach in the British Virgin Islands is hidden behind a mountain pocked with lush, swaying palm trees, but that is not its biggest appeal. The most interesting thing about The Baths is that the entire thing is basically a garden made up of enormous, smooth rocks. No one knows how these granite boulders got here, but it is not hard to imagine that they were placed there thousands of years ago by a mystical being in a legend or a seafarer's tale. If you want some added privacy, you can go inside several caves created by the large rock formations, and hide away within.
Makena, Maui, Hawaii
No list of incredible beaches is complete without at least one mention of Hawaii. Hawaii is home to some of the United States' most gorgeous beaches, including Makena on the island of Maui. The warm, pinkish sand here contrasts perfectly with the beautiful blue of the water, and is especially breathtaking at sunset. For the more adventurous, there are actually two beaches that make up Makena - and one of them is a nude beach.
Navagio Beach, Zakynthos, Greece
Navagio Beach is also known as "Smuggler's Cove" and "Shipwreck Beach," which really sets the mood for a fun pirate adventure. Located on the island of Zakynthos, this secluded beach is one of the most photographed beaches in all of Greece, and is home to something very special: a genuine shipwreck. According to TheWholeWorldIsAPlayGround.com, the rusted ship in question is called Panagiotis, and there are two theories for how the ship made it onto the shore. The first (and more exciting) one is that the ship was trying to escape from the Greek Navy, which was pursuing it for smuggling cigarettes, and wrecked onto the shore in the 1980s. The second (more plausible) theory is that the ship simply ran into bad weather and mechanical problems and washed up onto the shore. You can make up your own story when you visit the wreck - but be advised that it takes a lot of walking and climbing to get to it.
Cala Deia, Mallorca, Spain
This is not your typical suntanning beach. Cala Deia is a city located right on the water's edge - so close that when you eat at one of the fresh seafood restaurants nearby, you are basically eating in the water. The surrounding villas are right on the water as well, and make for a fantastic place to stay. You can still play on the rocky shores, but the main attraction of this unique beach is the incredible turquoise color of the water.
Hidden Beach, Marieta Islands, Mexico
Hidden Beach, also known as Playa del Amor ("Beach of Love"), is one of the most fascinating beaches on the planet. Located an hour north of Puerto Vallarta in the Marieta Islands National Park, Hidden Beach is a white-sand beach located within an enormous cave. To make it even more interesting, that cave opens up to the sky with a huge, round hole in the top, so you can still get some sun while being completely hidden away. According to Vallarta Adventures, this Hidden Beach is only accessible when the tide is low, and after going through a tunnel of water. You can make it through the tunnel by either swimming or kayaking, which adds an extra layer of seclusion (and a feeling of reward!) to your beach adventure.
Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island, Australia
Whitehaven Beach is stunning to look at on its own, but when the tide mixes the blue-green water with the clean, white sand of the cove, it creates swirls in the water that look like clouds of snow or a watercolor painting. It is hard to believe something so beautiful exists.
Ölüdeniz may be hard to pronounce (which is why many people prefer to call it "Blue Lagoon"), but the beauty of this Turkish retreat more than makes up for it. The clear blue water of the lagoon adds to the peacefulness of its secluded spot, located near an equally stunning national park. If just sitting on the sand soaking up the sun isn't enough adventure for you, you can also go tandem paragliding as you take in the views of nearby mountains. According to Lonely Planet, it has become quite a tourist hub, so you may have to compete with some crowds.
Piha Beach, New Zealand
Piha Beach in New Zealand is incredible for several reasons. First, it is a black sand beach, meaning the sands on the shore are made up of volcanic ash and minerals. Second, it is one of the best places to surf in the Pacific. Third, it is home to a 16-million-year-old stone called Lion Rock, which is so beloved that it has made it onto both postage stamps and the cover of the Auckland, New Zealand, phone book.
Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos
Grace Bay in Turks and Caicos was voted the number one beach in the entire world by users of TripAdvisor in 2016. It is one of travelers' favorites because of its stunningly clear water, white sands and relaxed atmosphere. You can chill on the beach in the sun all day, or you can go sailing or even snorkeling in the beautiful green-blue waters.
White Beach, Boracay, Philippines
White Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Boracay (and the world). Why? Because not only is it adjacent to all sorts of great nightlife, restaurants and luxury hotels, it also has the perfect water for swimming. Normally water from a sea or ocean tends to get a bit rough at times, but here the water is calm and smooth - ideal for even those who aren't the best swimmers.
Anse Intendance, Seychelles
Anse Intendance has sands that are incredibly white. What makes this beach extra special, though, is that it is located right in front of a lush jungle that seems like something straight out of a story. If you visit between October and February, you can have the added honor of watching sea turtles searching for homes and laying eggs during their nesting season.
San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily, Italy
Sicily has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but surprisingly few tourists make their way there to enjoy them each year. If you are looking for a particularly gorgeous, unspoiled paradise, San Vito Lo Capo is the beach for you. With clear water and soft brown sands, this beach is perfect for both swimming and laying out in the sun.
Railay Beach, Krabi, Thailand
Railay Beach is not your typical beach. Sure, it has breathtakingly blue water and white sands, but according to CNN Travel, it also has something most other beaches don't: enormous limestone rock formations. Rock climbing enthusiasts will be in heaven here as they climb the rock formations and get an even more spectacular view of the beach and the water from the top.
Playa Caleton, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Playa Caleton in the Dominican Republic is the kind of place people think about when they imagine the perfect beach vacation. The water is so clear that it seems colorless even at a distance, and the shores are pocked with large, shady palm trees that sway lazily in the warm summer breeze as you unwind. As an added bonus, there are several seafood shacks nearby, always within walking distance, so you will never go hungry on your quest for luxury and relaxation.
Bingin Beach, Bali, Indonesia
Bingin Beach in Bali is a surfer's beach. It regularly sees swells of over eight feet, making it a spectacular spot for catching some waves. When the tide is low, you can also lay out on the sand or the mossy parts of the tropical beach and enjoy the sun and the cool, clean water. One of the biggest perks of this beach, though, is that it is so accessible. It is just 30 minutes away from the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali and you can easily get there by car.
Horseshoe Bay Beach, Bermuda
This beach, which is made up of pretty pink sand, curves in a horseshoe shape around a beautiful blue bay. The colors here are like something out of a painting, and you can breathe them all in as you lie in the sun, perhaps while drinking a Dark 'n Stormy - the rum-based cocktail invented here in the 1920s.
Grande Plage, Hendaye, France
The South of France is home to many beaches that are worth a visit, but Grande Plage has a bit of something for everyone. For the surfers, there are some big waves to catch. For the sunbathers, there is plenty of open space on the beach so that it never feels too crowded. And for those who are looking for the ultimate comfort (or to feel a bit risqué), there is also a section of the beach reserved for nudists.
Sharm ElSheikh, Egypt
When most people think of Egypt, they think of deserts and dry, arid landscapes. You might be surprised to learn, though, that it is also home to a gorgeous beach called Sharm El Sheikh. Its waters are crystal clear and warm, and its location near the coral reefs of the Red Sea make it a great place for scuba diving.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, U.S.A.
According to the Travel Channel, Myrtle Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the contiguous United States. It has something for everyone. For those who want nightlife and other fun activities, there are Ferris wheels, amusement parks, water parks and live entertainment. For those who would prefer to spend their vacation relaxing in nature, there is silky white sand to lay on and plenty of spots to fish, swim or surf. The sunsets here are not to be missed either, as they are renowned for their beautiful colors.
Nungwi, Zanzibar, Tanzania
Zanzibar is home to several amazing beaches, but Nungwi might just be the best. This beach was once a fishing village, but has now turned into a popular tourist destination thanks to its unreal turquoise waters and lush, leafy palm trees. Be sure to stick around until sunset, though, as this is the time that the dhows (sailboats with big, white sails) leave the port and set out for the open sea.
Fontelina Beach, Capri, Italy
There are dozens of incredible beaches in Italy (as almost every region is adjacent to a sea), but Fontelina Beach in Capri is the place to be if you want to experience high-class luxury and sophistication. This rocky beach sits below the jutting cliffs of Capri, with a great view of the storied Faraglioni rock formations in the distance. You can even enjoy freshly caught and cooked fish at the nearby beach club.
McWay Falls, Big Sur, California
McWay Falls in Big Sur is another incredible beach right here in America's backyard. This one is famous for its waterfall, which is nearly 80 feet high. There are also a number of other jagged, picturesque rock formations in the area, making this beach not just great for tanning, but also for adventuring and photo ops as well.
Bamburgh, Northumberland, England
A beautiful beach in the stereotypically gray country of England? I have to be kidding, right? Wrong! Bamburgh beach in Northumberland is the kind of place that Victorian authors dreamed about when writing their literary masterpieces. This beach is windswept and somber, making it perfect for introspection. It is also home to Bamburgh Castle, one of the most famous castles in the U.K.
Varkala, Kerala, India
According to TripSavvy, Varkala has the "best spectacular setting" of all of India's beaches. It is a quieter, calmer alternative to some of the more commercialized beaches nearby, and has a view that is truly amazing. A tall, rocky cliff covered in palm trees looks out over the Arabian Sea, giving you a great view from both above and below on the beach itself. You can even take the calm atmosphere here to a whole other level if you like, as many people come to the beach to practice yoga and to meditate as they listen to the water lapping against the shore.