Everyone knows the Caribbean is one of the best places to sit back and relax on gorgeous white-sand beaches. But turns out, beaches can be diverse, too. Whether it be the volcanic black sand beaches of Iceland or Hormuz Island’s so-called rainbow beach in Iran, here’s a list of the world’s best, albeit off the beaten path, beaches.
1. Achill Island, Ireland
Experience an authentic piece of Irish life by renting a small cottage by the sea on Achill Island, in Ireland. The island is home to seven Blue Flag beaches, all secluded and gorgeous, even in rainy weather.
2. Reynisfjara, Iceland
Large basalt columns and volcanic black sand make this beach one of the most visually stunning in the world. Iceland’s Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach is located near the small fishing village of Vík í Mýrdal on the island’s southern coast.
3. Shelter Cove, California
Shelter Cove, California is a small beach town on the state’s “Lost Coast,” a portion of California’s northern coastline that experienced a historic rate of depopulation in the mid-1990s, giving it its name of Lost Coast. The beaches here are beautiful, unpopulated and visually stunning. Black Sands Beach is the most stunning of them all, complete with black sand and tumultuous waters, surrounded by verdant green mountains.
4. Trancoso, Brazil
Trancoso, Brazil is quickly becoming a popular beach town, with over 7,500 miles of beaches, which are largely undiscovered by tourists. Known as a hidden gem, this laid-back beach town is quiet and remote, offering a glimpse of true Brazil, without the crush of tourists.
5. Three Cliffs Bay, Swansea, Wales
Three Cliffs Bay in Swansea, Wales offers visitors a piece of untouched wilderness, with sand dunes, limestone cliffs and even a salt marsh. The incredible landscape, which looks like a postcard from a fantasy world, is the perfect place to breathe the fresh salt air and reflect.
6. Blaavand Strand, Denmark
Denmark’s Blaavand Strand is a large stretch of white sand that goes on for miles. No, literally, it goes on for more than 28 miles! Also special about this beach is that a portion of it has a lagoon, which is perfect for children. This is a popular place to relax and walk, but also to try to find some precious amber.
7. Vilanova de Arousa, Galicia, Spain
The small beach resort town of Vilanova de Arousa is located in Galicia, in northernmost Spain. Its coastal culture and charm are certainly compelling, as are the town’s beautiful beaches. For a relaxing, serene and quiet vacation, Vilanova de Arousa will do just beautifully.
8. Benagil Caves, Algarve, Portugal
Towering cliffs and golden sands makes the beaches of Benagil, a small fishing village, a gorgeous place to stop and relax, but more popular are the sea caves: huge water-sculpted caves that are some of the most beautiful geological marvels in this world. Take a stand-up paddleboard or a boat tour into these majestic caves, and experience something incredible.
9. Praia da Adraga, Portugal
Near the town of Almoçageme lays another of Portugal’s stunning beaches. Well preserved and naturally wild, with hidden tunnels and grottoes to explore, Praia da Adraga has been a popular place for Europeans to visit for years, but is even beautiful during the off-season.
10. Othonoi, Greece
The small island of Othonoi, Greece features very distinct Greek beaches. For a hidden treasure, complete with that bright cerulean Mediterranean sea, go to Aspri Ammos Beach.
11. Petani Beach, Kefalonia, Greece
Petani Beach in Kelafonia, Greece is a beautiful Mediterranean gem. Especially beautiful are the sunsets over the sea. Close by are the Monastery of Kipouria, Lixouri Town and the wilder beach of Platia Ammos.
12. Capo Sant’Andrea, Elba
Capo Sant’Andrea is located on the Italian island of Elba, the island where Napoleon had been exiled to after he was deposed. The island itself is a paradise, featuring archeological remains of sunken Roman ships and ancient settlements, as well as a wealth of local flora and fauna. With water that is clear and stunning, the rocky beaches are known to be some of the most geologically unique in the world.
13. Hormuz Island, Iran
Iran’s Hormuz Island is most famous for its incredible geological formations, formed by volcanic activity. The Red Beach, nicknamed “Rainbow Beach” features bright red sand, along with white, black, orange and more. Also incredible to visit is the Rainbow Cave, a striking cave that looks like it was painted in thick, psychedelic colors.
14. Likoma Island, Malawi
Likoma Island, located in the large Lake Malawi, is an incredible water-centric vaacation destination. Offering more than twenty diving spots where you can view colorful cichlids. The beaches here are beautiful and natural, and it’s a perfect spot for those who don’t like salt water.
15. Diani Beach, Kenya
Diani Beach is one of Africa’s best beaches. Located near the Indian Ocean on Kenya’s coastline, it offers plenty of activities, such as diving with sea turtles and dolphins, or spotting the elusive yet gigantic whale shark.
16. Koh Lanta Island, Thailand
Koh Lanta Island, located in Thailand, is an incredibly relaxing beach destination. With more than a handful of stunning beaches to choose from, you can literally spend your entire vacation here just beach-hopping.
17. Pink Beach, Komodo, Indonesia
Pink Beach is located on Komodo Island in Indonesia, the home of the Komodo dragon. One of only seven pink beaches in the world, Pink Beach is a relaxing, unique and truly romantic destination, preserved as part of a national park. It’s also a great place to snorkel or dive, as the island’s shallow waters contain a plethora of marine wildlife.
18. Siquijor Island, Phillippines
Siquijor Island, referred to by locals as Isla del Fuego because of the island’s stunning firefly population, is an exotic tropical paradise. Think: waterfalls, rainforests, caves, beaches and bright blue waters. The island itself features incredible outdoor activities, with less crowds than El Nido.
19. Lord Howe Island, New South Wales, Australia
Lord Howe Island is one of the unspoiled natural islands that is popular as an outdoor destination, with plenty of beaches and wildlife to discover. Located in New South Wales, Australia, the island is covered in rich green foliage and surrounded by a bright blue sea.
20. Tallow Beach, Byron Bay, Australia
Tallow Beach in Byron Bay is a scenic beach that is not crowded by tourists. Serene and natural, the beaches stretches for several miles. It is part of the Awakral National Park, so the area is protected and contains a variety of local wildlife. This beach is perfect for whale-watching and surfing, too.
21. Anapai Beach, Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand
Anapai Bay, located in Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand, is an unspoiled paradise. With yellow and pink sand, rocky outcroppings smoothed by centuries of seawater and natural wilderness all around, this stretch of beach is truly an Instagram-worthy destination, and is perfect for any outdoor-lover.
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