Discover the Very Best Beaches in the World
These sandy stretches are bound to give you major wanderlust
Chances are, at some point during a pandemic-induced lockdown, you caught yourself dreaming of taking a dip in warm, turquoise waters, or relaxing on soft white sands with green palm trees swaying above you. In other words, tropical paradise. Well, with travel back on the cards, it’s time to make those dreams a reality. Here at Plum Guide, we’re big fans of the beach life (who isn’t?), and as travel experts, we love nothing more than going above and beyond for our guests. So pack your suitcase, because we’re about to take you on a trip around the world to find the most beautiful beaches on our planet.
Whitehaven Beach, Australia
Whitehaven Beach is largely considered the number one beach in the world. This heavenly beach is a canvas of swirling blues, greens, and whites, located on Whitsunday Island in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. Stretching for seven kilometres, the sand here is 98 percent pure white silica which gives it an almost luminescent colour. The views are even more incredible from the Hill Inlet Lookout where you can admire the full scale of the beach’s marbled effect.
Blue Lagoon, Muğla, Turkey
Although it lies right behind the crowded Ölüdeniz Beach, the Blue Lagoon feels like a different world. Separated by a sand bar and narrow channel, this lagoon is famous for its vibrant shades of turquoise and soft white sands. Hop onto a canoe and explore the rocky shores of the inner lagoon, swim across to the small island at its mouth, or simply relax in the shallow waters as you gaze up at the surrounding pine covered mountains.
Sotavento Beach, Canary Islands
Actually made up of five beaches, Sotavento Beach is an unbroken, nine kilometre stretch of golden, windswept coast. The shallow waters are ideal for windsurfing, kitesurfing, and swimming, and you can even take a dip in the huge lagoons which are created at low tide. With its enormous sand dunes and untouched beauty, this is a must-visit when in Fuerteventura.
Cala Brandinchi, Sardinia, Italy
Also known as ‘Little Tahiti’, its nickname tells you all you need to know about this beach. Cala Brandinchi’s impossibly blue waters are calm and shallow, making it ideal for swimming and snorkelling around the various rock formations. The beach is over 700 metres long, perfect for a relaxing stroll along the water. For an even longer walk, why not explore the forest of Mediterranean pine trees, or the small sand dunes which surround the beach.
Elafonissi Beach, Crete, Greece
Technically an island, Elafonissi Beach is separated from Crete by shallow water and sandbars that disappear at high tide. It constantly makes lists of the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world, and it’s not hard to see why. The beach itself is painting-like, with blindingly white sand infused with patches of pink sand which has taken its colour from millions of crushed shells. At almost a mile long, there are plenty of secluded spots to swim in its calm, turquoise waters.
Bai Sao Beach, Vietnam
Nestled between two different mountain ranges, Bai Sao Beach on Phú Quoc island is the definition of tropical paradise. Think pristine white sands, aquamarine waters, and quaint beach shacks sitting under coconut palms swaying in the breeze. The bay benefits from calm, flat waters which are great for swimming, snorkelling, and kayaking. You won’t find much development here, making it perfect for escaping the tourist areas.
Lulworth Cove, Dorset, UK
This eye-catching natural cove on the Jurassic Coast is famous for its unique geology, with amazing landforms and fossils dating back 10,000 years. With green cliffs surrounding its pebble shores and calm blue waters, Lulworth Cove is a fantastic spot for swimming, kayaking, and paddle-boarding. If you want to explore further afield, other famous landmarks such as Durdle Door and Stair Hole are just a short walk away.
Cathedral Cove, New Zealand
Set on the Coromandel Peninsula, Cathedral Cove is a picturesque bay named after its defining feature, a giant, cathedral-like arched cavern. The beach itself is an idyllic spot to relax, with serene green-blue waters and shady pohutukawa trees lining the sand. Just off the beach you’ll see Te Hoho, a large pinnacle of pumice breccia rock which adds to the dramatic scenery.
Playa Balandra, Baja California Sur, Mexico
With miles of white sand set against a desert backdrop of red hills and prickly cactus, Playa Balandra is easily one of the best beaches in the world. The shallow, clear waters are perfect for swimming, SUP boarding, and kayaking, and you can even paddle through the mangrove forest on the inner edge of the beach. Although it's only 30 minutes from the busy city of La Paz, the beach has a remote, deserted feel to it - perfect for your quiet break.
Calanque d’En Vau, Marseilles, France
Set in the Calanques National Park, Calanque d’En Vau beach is a spectacular inlet with towering white limestone cliffs disappearing into the azure waters. The only way to get there is by boat or by following the hiking trail. It’s worth the effort though, as the views of the water and encompassing cliffs are unmatched. The pebbly beach is backed by forests, so don’t be surprised if a group of wild boar join you on your swim.
Railay Beach, Thailand
While Thailand has an abundance of beautiful beaches, Railay Beach is one of its most scenic. Located on the Railay Peninsula, this picture-postcard beach is known for its imposing limestone cliffs, thick mangrove forests, lush palm trees, and fine white sands. There are plenty of ways to enjoy the beach, whether you want to snorkel, kayak, or hike to the top of the cliffs for some striking views.
Bottom Bay Beach, Barbados
Tucked away on the southeast coast of Barbados, Bottom Bay Beach is the definition of paradise - with its wide expanse of fine white sand and azure waters. The beach is backed by swaying palm trees and high coral cliffs which give the strip a more secluded, enclosed feel. The waves tend to be very strong here, so it’s better for splashing about rather than bathing. But with its peaceful, desert island-feel there’s not much to complain about - we’re happy to just lie in the shade with a book.
Source d’Argent, Seychelles
Although the entirety of the Seychelles is made up of picturesque beaches, Source d’Argent is known for being one of the best in the archipelago, as well as one of the nicest beaches in the world. In fact, you’d be forgiven for thinking this beach just came out of a painting with its powdery white sands, wavy granite boulders, translucent waters, and vibrant foliage.
Jericoacoara Beach, Brazil
Although Copacabana and Ipanema may take the limelight when it comes to Brazilian beaches, we think that Jericoacoara Beach (locally known as ‘Jerry’) offers a more remote, laid-back vibe, with its vivid blue waters and white sand dunes. There’s plenty to do here, whether you want to try windsurfing and kitesurfing, explore the nearby Lagoa do Paraíso, or just chill out in the hammocks suspended over the water.
Praia do Porto do Seixal, Madeira, Portugal
Located on the volcanic island of Madeira, Praia do Porto do Seixal is one of the best beaches in the world. This unforgettable black sand beach offers a dramatic contrast to the blue waters and surrounding green cliffs and mountains. Waterfalls tumble down into the crevasses of the mountain ridges, adding to the magical scenery. Our favourite time to visit is at sunrise as the first rays light up the sea cliffs, making the black sand sparkle.
Playa Conchal, Costa Rica
Playa Conchal is one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful beaches, known for its year-round sunshine and the millions of crushed shells that line its shores. Its crystal clear waters and abundant marine life make it a great beach for swimming and snorkelling. Plus, the palm trees and mangrove forests that line the beach give it that remote feel.
Es Trenc, Majorca, Spain
Located in the southern part of Majorca, Es Trenc is a seven-kilometre long beach which feels decidedly Caribbean with its pearly white sands and bright blue waters. Behind the beach you’ll find sand dunes, which act as a breeding ground for various birds. Located in a protected area, Es Trenc is the perfect spot for nature lovers - t’s the last remaining natural beach in Majorca which hasn’t been spoilt by beach-side developments.
Kelingking Beach, Indonesia
If you’re wondering where to go for the most beautiful beaches, look no further than Indonesia. As the largest archipelago in the world, the whole country is just an endless supply of scenic sandy stretches. Kelingking Beach on the island of Nusa Penida is one of the most famous spots, known for the giant green cliffs which resemble the shape of a T-Rex’s head. Although many people visit to see the cliffs, few venture down the limestone rocks and bamboo rails to the secluded, golden beach below.
Myrtos Beach, Kefalonia, Greece
This picture postcard beach is, without a doubt, one of the most popular spots in Kefalonia. Surrounded by steep limestone cliffs and vegetation-covered hillsides, the aquamarine waters lapping up against this white pebbled beach is truly one of the most remarkable scenes on the island. Myrtos Beach also happens to be one of the best sunset spots in Kefalonia, with the colours of the water changing from blue to orange to soft pink.
Reynisfjara is easily one of the best beaches in the world, although you might need to pack your jacket instead of your swim shorts. It’s the most famous beach in Iceland, with its jet black sands, rocky cliffs, and huge, crashing waves adding to the moody atmosphere. From the beach you have a view of the Reynisdrangar sea stacks, towering basalt columns which local folklore believe to be trolls frozen in time.