So often the epicentre of holiday resorts and hidden retreats all around the world, the beach is a universally adored natural phenomenon. Stretches of white sands and crystal clear waters capture our imaginations and hearts, as we stretch out to soak up some rays and then cool off in the gentle lap of the ocean. So to celebrate beach life, we’ve picked our 80 favourite beaches from around the world – so grab your bucket and spade, this is part one of Around the World in 80 Beaches.
From the breezy but beautiful beaches of the Shetlands to the sun-soaked sandy stretches of the Greek islands, Europe’s portfolio of beaches is as varied as it is impressive.
Our Lady Beach – Porquerolles, France
With an extensive vegetation programme in full swing combined with impressive preservation efforts; Our Lady Beach in the French Riviera remains as beautiful today as it was when people started visiting this enchanting part of the world. With golden sands, clear waters and a series of creeks to explore, Our Lady beach is a truly splendid place to enjoy the laid back lifestyle of the French Riviera.
Navagio Beach – Zakynthos, Greece
Adorning a million postcards, Navagio Beach is instantly recognisable for the shipwreck on its sands. The small beach is completely isolated, flanked by sheer limestone cliffs, and can only be reached by boat. But the effort to visit this beach is more than worth it, with immaculately clear waters welcoming all those who make the trip.
Zlatni Rat Beach – Dalmatia, Croatia
A small sandy spit reaching out into the sea, Zlatni Rat Beach cuts a dramatic figure against the blue waters. The gently sandy slope into the sea provides a truly remarkable setting for dipping your toes in the Adriatic underneath the baking Croatian sun.
Ölüdeniz Beach – Turquoise Coast, Turkey
Ölüdeniz literally translates to dead sea, recognising the calm waters which hardly budge even when a storm rages. With a striking mountain backdrop, a sweeping, curving beach and turquoise waters aplenty; the beach is unsurprisingly one of the most photographed on the Mediterranean.
Sveti Stefan – Montenegro
The pink sandy beaches on the small islet of Sveti Stefan defy belief, looking more like the winning entry to a design-a-beach competition than a real world setting. With the small town of Sveti Stefan perched across the bay, complete with traditional, orange roofed, Montenegrin buildings; the beach is a remarkable place to watch the world go by.
Isola Bella Beach – Toarmina, Italy
Set 700ft below Toarmina, Isola Bella Beach is not dissimilar to Zlatni Rat with the pebbled beach tapering out into the sea. However, this Italian entry also boasts a small rocky formation at the peak of the beach, complete with a few houses as well as grottos and underwater delights to explore.
Porto Santo – Madeira, Portugal
Visitors to the volcanic island of Madeira may be disappointed by the lack of natural beaches, but the smaller island of Porto Santo, a short boat journey away, can help appease beach bums. The entire island is practically a beach, measuring roughly six miles in length – with the North African heat tempered by a cooling island breeze.
Kampen Beach – Germany
Germany may not be the most obvious nation for a beach retreat on the continent, but in Kampen Beach, the country boasts an incomparably charming sandy setting. Attached to the eponymous village of Kampen, the beach boasts dramatic red cliffs, soft sands and the famous blue and white covered seating. There’s also a nude beach not far away for the more adventurous of visitors.
Platja de Ses Illetes – Formentera, Spain
A short hop south of the party island of Ibiza sits the decidedly beautiful and quaint Formentera which boasts a number of stellar beaches. The pick of the bunch is Platja de Ses Illetes, which includes perfect swimming waters, soft sands and little nuggets of coral reef. The competition for the title of best beach in Spain is hotly contested, but we believe Platja de Ses Illetes has a serious case.
Porthcurno – Cornwall, England
You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d shipwrecked somewhere a little more exotic and far-flung than Cornwall when you happen upon Porthcurno. A small strip of sandy beach caught between granite cliffs, Porthcurno is an idyllic setting for a family beach trip. At low tide, it’s even possible to walk out to other beaches and bays – just make sure you don’t get trapped away from your towels and belongings!
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A selection of paradise islands, soaring heat and dramatic landscapes gift Africa some truly spectacular beaches.
Anse Georgette – Praslin Island, Seychelles
Despite being one of the lesser known beaches on Praslin Islands, Anse Georgette certainly does not suffer from an inferiority complex. Bewilderingly quiet and peaceful, Anse Georgette is a simple blanket of beautifully white sands – without a rock or blot in sight. Paired with the turquoise seas, and you’ve got, perhaps, the most beautiful beach in the Seychelles.
Legzira Beach – Sidi Ifni, Morocco
Typified by the natural sea-worn rock archways dotted along the beach, Legzira Beach is a truly unique spectacle. Popular with visitors at dawn and dusk coming to witness the sun appear through the rock archways, the beach is a beautiful setting for a romantic beachfront stroll.
Nakupenda Beach – Stone Town, Tanzania
The clear waters surrounding Nakupenda Beach provide one of the best locations for snorkelling in the whole of Africa. The corals and fish schools provide plenty to see when exploring under the ocean’s surface.
Bloubergstrand Beach – Cape Town, South Africa
Bloubergstrand Beach boasts one of the best views of any entry on this 80-strong list, providing vistas over the waters to Table Mountain. One of the most popular visitor attractions in South Africa, the stunning views paired with the relaxing waters provide the perfect setting for a day in this vibrant city.
Magawish Village Beach – Hurghada, Egypt
A perfect family beach in the heart of Egypt’s popular resort town of Hurghada. Kitesurfing, windsurfing and a selection of other water sports upon unspoiled stretches of sand provide excitement aplenty for families visiting Egypt.
Ile Plate Beach – Mauritius
The paradise island of Mauritius is awash with stunning beaches, and Ile Plate Beach manages to combine all the wonderful elements which draw visitors back year after year. The palm tree-lined beach boasts wonderful golden sands and crystal clear waters which are perfect for snorkelling and swimming.
Kotu Beach – Gambia
The presence of fishermen walking up and down the beach with their daily catches only adds to the charming authenticity of Kotu Beach in Gambia. Backed by the hotel of the same name, Kotu Beach is blessed with wonderful soft sands and waters ripe for swimming. And when the Gambian heat takes its toll, there’s plenty of bars to retreat to for crisp refreshments.
Watamu Beach – Malindi, Kenya
A beautifully quiet stretch of beach where you’re as likely to spot a dolphin as another person; Watamu Beach boasts crystal clear waters lapping against glistening white sands. Part of the Watamu National Marine Park, the beach is exhaustively cared for – ensuring your trip is never ruined by litter or other pesky flotsam.
Russian Bay – Madagascar
Living up to Madagascar’s proud reputation as a haven for exotic and interesting wildlife, the remote Russian Bay beach is home to turtles, dolphins and hundreds of different species of fish. Even if you aren’t a passionate beach bum, there’s plenty to draw you to this magnificent stretch of sand in enigmatic Madagascar.
Tofo Beach – Inhambane, Mozambique
Tofo Beach is home to an impressive barrier reef as well as manta rays and turtles – perfect for those looking for a little more than sunbathing from their beach holiday. The soft roll of the sea along this five-mile stretch of sand, plus year-round sunshine, makes Tofo Beach a stunning place to visit – plus it seldom attracts a crowd.
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Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: Imagea.org, Fredi Bach, gnuckx, Toby Charlton-Taylor, ys-fotografie, Singa Hitam, Warren Rohner, Adamina, Filip Lachowski, Ana Raquel S. Hernandes,Szabolcs Emich