Time spent on a beach is always a special one, and it is best place to create some of the best memories. Even though you probably have your favorite ones, here are 12 beaches which you have to visit, at least once in your lifetime.
1. Baia do Sancho
Whether you prefer Brazil as you vacation destination or not, it has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and one of them is Baia do Sancho. The breathtaking place with beautiful rock formations and enormous diversity of flora and fauna created a beautiful beach that will leave you speechless.
The golden sand and turquoise sea make this beach one of the best. You can get your snorkeling gear and have a real adventure beneath the gentle waves and explore the beautiful and colorful corals that countless species of animal life call home. When you finish your adventure beneath the sea you can go back to the beach and watch the sunset, sip your favorite drink and have a time of your life.
2. Cala Saona, Formentera
There is no shortage of beautiful beaches on the smallest of the Balearics but everybody seems to want to cram on to Illetes and Espalmador. Much better to hire a bike or moped in the main port, La Savina, and head a few kilometres across the island to Cala Saona. It has perfectly clear water, white sand and dramatic red cliffs on both sides. It faces west, so is the ideal spot for a sundowner at, say, the charmingly simple Cala Saona chiringuito.
3. Glass Beach, California
A beach made from years of dumped litter sounds like a hellhole but, at Glass beach, on the Mendocino coast in California, the result is quite beautiful. From 1906 to 1967, glass, appliances and even vehicles were chucked into the sea. A clean-up programme removed all the metal and non-biodegradable waste, and the waves broke down the glass and pottery, which washed up as jewel-like, translucent stones. Nowadays, the beach is part of MacKerricher state park, and visitors are forbidden for removing the sea-glass baubles.
4. Starfish Beach, Panama
Panama has three archipelagos: San Blas is pricey to get to, the Pearl Islands are pricey to stay on, but Bocas del Toro, just south of Costa Rica on the Caribbean side, puts virgin beach utopia within a backpacker budget. From the funky town hub of Bocas on Isla Colón, boat taxis cross between the 10 inhabited islands and some 300 islands and islets, although this protected beach, gloriously decorated with a liberal smattering of starfish, is on Colón itself.
5. Fakistra, Greece
More of a cove than a beach, backed by cliffs and dense woods, with white sands and pebbles and clear blue waters – is Fakistra on the Pelion peninsula (mainland Greece), below Tsagarada village. It’s a steep walk down but it’s the sort of place that, apart from in July and August, you may well have to yourself.
6. Playa del Amor (Hidden Beach), Mexico
An underground beach sounds like the stuff of legend, but the Marietas Islands, where Hidden Beach lies, were used as a military testing ground by the Mexican government in the early 1900s, and it’s suspected that a bomb may have created the crater in which it sits. Access to this crescent within a gaping circular hole in the landscape, is by swimming or kayaking through a long tunnel. Many operators run boat trips here from Puerto Vallarta, but the sea is rough and you have to swim in beside treacherous rocks. But it’s stunning – Jacques Cousteau was a fan – with the bonus of possibly spotting a humpback whale on the way.
7. Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Sugar sand, palms, breeze, sea that’s 26-29C year round and the colour of peppermint mouthwash… Bora Bora is a cliched vision of the heavenly beach. Even if you never get to go, this is one for the mental image bank at least – use it when meditating. Matira has to win as the only public beach on the island, and somewhere you could mingle with locals.
8. St George Beach, Naxos, Greece
Greece has no shortage of gorgeous beaches, but when it comes to accessible and child-friendly options, the Cyclades island of Naxos is hard to beat. One of the best bets for families can be found within a five-minute walk of Naxos Town (Chora). The warm, shallow waters of St George beach are perfect for paddling and snorkelling but there’s plenty to keep older children happy, too.
9. Praia da Salema, Algarve
In the far west of the Algarve, the fishing village of Salema has somehow escaped the large-scale development that blights much of Portugal’s southern coast. Fishermen tend their nets on the sandy Blue Flag-certified beach, and dinosaur footprints can be found preserved in the limestone rocks. The gentle waves are perfect for a spot of boogie boarding under the watchful eye of the lifeguards on duty in the summer. There are sun loungers and umbrellas for hire, toilets and showers, and a good choice of restaurants and cafes.
10. Yyteri, Pori, Finland
Picture a beach holiday and Finland is not the first country that springs to mind, yet this Nordic country is home to one of the finest stretches of sand in northern Europe. Yyteri beach, near the city of Pori, is a 5km stretch of powder-soft sand backed by dunes and pine forests. In late summer, the shallow waters of the Baltic are surprisingly warm and the offshore breezes attract surfers from across Scandinavia. There are wetsuits, surf- and stand-up paddle boards for hire from the Yyteri Surf Centre. Facilities are low-key: a couple of coffee and ice-cream stalls, picnic tables, a children’s play area, toilets and not much else.
11. Cala Gonone, Sardinia
It’s not difficult to find a stunning beach on Sardinia, but finding one that caters for families on a modest budget is more of a challenge. Cala Gonone ticks all of the right boxes. White pebble-and-sand beaches, with sun loungers and parasols for rent, calm, turquoise waters for swimming and snorkelling, a long seafront promenade lined with low-key trattorias – and none of the bling that accompanies the glitzier Costa Smeralda to the north. When the charms of Cala Gonone’s two small but perfectly formed beaches pall, there are daily boat trips to the Bue Marino caves and more remote beaches, such as Cala Luna and Cala Fuili, further south.
12. Sunj, Lopud, Croatia
Sandy beaches are outnumbered by pebbly ones in Croatia, but the car-free island of Lopud, a 40-minute ferry ride from Dubrovnik, is the exception. Locals ferry visitors in golf buggies from the port to Sunj beach, a 1km strip of sand sloping gently into limpid, shallow waters on the island’s south coast. There are two restaurants, both of which rent deck chairs and beach umbrellas, and a choice of activities from beach volleyball to tennis.