Best for beaches

 


For many travellers finding the best beach (whatever that constitutes) is a serious mission. Here are a few of what are widely regarded as the world’s finest beaches.

Hawaii
Nowhere in Hawaii is far from a gorgeous beach. On the northern coast of Kauai, the big waves at Hanalei Bay make it a favourite winter spot for confident surfers. Those in search of that secret bit of sand could do worse than make their way to Cathedral Beach, also on Kauai. Swimming from a boat is the only way in and out, and the stunning location was used in the filming of King Kong and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Brazil
Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, in the heart of Rio, may be Brazil’s most famous beaches, but people-watching and caipirinhas aside, they’re certainly not the most attractive stretches of sand. For a memorable escape, head to Lopes Mendes; it’s a day’s travel from Rio by road, ferry and taxi-boat, before a hike through a forest reveals a 3 km stretch of perfect white sand, without a bar or a cafe in sight.  

Mexico
Only in Tulum on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula will you find a beach below the ruins of an ancient walled city. The Mayan site overlooks a long stretch of white sand, and while hundreds of tourists a day visit the ruins and stare out onto the sea and beach below, the unique setting and the warm Caribbean water more than make up for the lack of privacy.

Australia
Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world, so there’s no surprise that it’s home to a half-decent stretch of sand; there are miles of pristine beach set against ancient rainforest. Rainbow Beach, also in Queensland, is named for its remarkable sand dunes; thanks to the particular mineral content the sand is a striking combination of red, yellow, orange and black.

Bora Bora
James Cook called it ‘the pearl of the Pacific’ when he sailed through the South Pacific in 1770, and its secluded beaches and high-end hotels have made it a firm favourite with honeymooners wanting to escape from the world. Matira is the best known beach, with a mile of soft white sand framed by palm trees and dropping into a shallow, emerald-green lagoon.

Cuba
Cuba is blessed with a decent selection of beaches; for some of the best head to Cayo Largo, a resort island off the southern coast. Playa Sirena is the place to go for watersports, while Playa Paraiso, as the name suggests, is a quiet spot with white sand and clear water, popular with those wanting to do precisely nothing.

Philippines
Head away from Manila and you’ll find no shortage of world-class beaches. The massed ranks of foreign tourists head to the party island of Boracay; if that’s your scene you’ll find the obligatory white sand, along with all-night bars and beach clubs. Alona Beach on Bohol offers a more chilled-out alternative, while Palawan offers stunning, often empty beaches.