Top 10 Beautiful Beaches in The World:
Maundays Bay, Anguilla:
It’s hard to debate this one. Anguilla is blessed with many a stunning beach, but Maundays Bay—on this skinny island’s southwesterly tip—wins for crystal-clear water, a gradual slope, pristine sand, and a perfect half moon arc. Technically a public beach, it is rarely crowded and populated predominantly by guests at the Belmond Cap Juluca—recently reborn after a glorious heyday in the ’90s. Of note, Maundays is ideal for families with kids, as sight lines are uninterrupted, there are rarely any waves, and the beach is neatly bookended by two small breakwaters.
Kiawah Island, SC:
Kiawah Island, a mostly private, gated community, less than a hours drive from Charleston International Airport (which is about to receive nonstop flights to London this year), is a low-country winner. East and West Beach, combined, stretch for 10 miles along the Atlantic. Public beach access is at Beachwalker County Park at the island’s far southern end. The sand is flat, the water is shallow, there are lifeguards on duty, and you can rent beach chairs and umbrellas rentals.
Trunk Bay, St. John, USVI:
Undeniably one of the most photographed beaches in the Caribbean, if not the world, Trunk Bay sits in the northwestern corner of the Virgin Islands National Park (it was donated to the park service by Laurence S. Rockefeller more than 50 years ago). Calm, clear water, and a 225-yard-long underwater trail for snorkeling are big draws, as are hiking trails up and into the surrounding greenery, filled with the ruins of historic sugar cane plantations.
Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos:
There’s a reason stars like Bruce Willis and Donna Karan built their vacation homes here: This 1,000-acre private island is only accessible by a 35-minute boat ride from Providenciales, and is home to one luxury resort and a few private villas. Yes, your entire vacation could really be spent without seeing another soul.
El Nido, Palawan, Philippines:
Shockingly, Palawan remains steadily under the radar, even though it continues to rank highly in our Readers’ Choice Awards. El Nido alone is home to around 50 white sand beaches—it’s impossible to choose just one—all of which are set around dramatic limestone formations and have the finest and whitest sand you’ll ever see. The water is so blindingly blue it makes the Caribbean Sea look murky in comparison. And the sunsets? Well, they’ll ruin you for life. Consider yourself warned.
Reethi Rah, North Malé Atoll, Maldives:
It’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite beach in the Maldives—what with over 1,200 to choose from—but we’re drawn to the North Malé Atoll, and Reethi Rah in particular. Eight perfect strands of sand circle this larger-than-average island, each seemingly better than the next—and with only one resort here, it never feels crowded.
Hilton Head Island, SC:
Rated the best island in the United States in our most recent Readers’ Choice Awards survey, Hilton Head Island—40 miles from Savannah/Hilton Head Airport—is a firm family favorite, with a full 12 miles of wide, empty beach (perfect for long bike rides). Coligny Beach is a full-service place, with food and activities for both adults and kids; mid-island Driessen Beach—also known as Bradley Beach—is quieter, but still has a boardwalk, playground, and grills for al fresco picnics.
Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda:
While it may be one of the most popular beaches on the island, Horseshoe Bay has a hidden secret: Port Royal Cove (pictured), which has shallow water perfect for young kids, and dramatic rock formations that complement wonderfully soft, pink sand. Nearby Spicelands Equestrian Centre even offers trail rides down to the private cove, which is located in part of South Shore Park in Southampton Parish.
Matira Beach, Bora Bora, French Polynesia:
Matira is perhaps the most famous of Tahiti’s beaches, and for good reason: The mile-long stretch of silky, powder-white sand slopes gently into a shallow emerald lagoon, and is backed by a thick curtain of palms and tropical foliage. An added bonus? It’s one of the only public-access beaches in Bora Bora, so you won’t need to pay five-star resort prices to enjoy its beauty. Come early to stake out a spot.
Gouverneur, St. Barts:
Sitting at the bottom of a steep, sparsely populated road—Gouverneur is remote and pristine. A small, well-maintained parking lot comes courtesy of the privately owned land (none other than Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich). Access to the sand is through a small, shady grove of trees—a popular spot for picnics at the eastern end of the beach. The farther west you walk, the fewer people you’ll find. Expect to encounter wild goats on occasion and keep a lookout for traces of buried treasure belonging to the notorious French pirate, Montbars ‘The Exterminator.