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39 Most Scenic Beaches Worldwide

by Albie Hartshill Apr 10, 2016

Summer is coming, and that means beach weekends. I realize there are some people out there who don’t go to the beach every summer, and those people are why we fight mental illness. For the rest of us, the only thing holding us over for the rest of the year is beach porn.

This is the worst time of year for me, the time just a month or two before the vacation where I’m not quite close enough to start a countdown, but I am close enough to be daydreaming about spending all day on the beach, beer in hand.

In service to anyone else who’s getting close to their beach vacation, but isn’t quite close enough, here are some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.


Colombier Beach

Photo: Christian Graugart/Shutterstock

On an island known for its beaches, Colombier Beach on St. Barths stands out. It’s the only one you can’t get to by car—you’ve gotta hike or sail.

Shi Shi Beach

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Olympic National Park on the Pacific coast of Washington is the home to Shi Shi Beach, and one of the most beautiful sunsets of all time.

Ko Phi Phi Leh

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Ko Phi Phi Leh is the beach they set the movie The Beach at, and the location scouts picked it for a good reason. The Phi Phi Islands in Thailand, near Phuket, were seriously messed up after the 2004 tsunami, but have made a comeback. 

Bocas del Toro

Photo: Jorge A. Russell/Shutterstock

Bocas del Toro is a tourist town on Colon Island in Panama. It’s situated along the Caribbean coast and apparently has sunrises that match those in The Lion King

Tulum Beach

on the beach in tulum

Photo: Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock

Tulum was a walled port-city for the Mayans in what is now the Mexican state of Quintana Roo—also the home to Playa del Carmen and Cancun. 

Sea of Stars

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If you go to the Sea of Stars on Vaadhoo Island in the Maldives archipelago at night, you’ll see this other-worldly bioluminescence effect, caused by glowing phytoplankton. 

Lanikai Beach

Photo: Shane Myers Photography/Shutterstock

Though only a half-mile long, Lanikai Beach on Oahu in Hawai’i is consistently ranked one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It’s known for its moonrises over the Mokulua Islands—the two tiny islands in the picture above. 

Matira Point

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Matira Point lies on the island of Bora Bora in French Polynesia, and is known for its over-the-water bungalows. 

Bell’s Beach

Great Ocean Road, Australia

Photo: Milosz Maslanka/Shutterstock

Bell’s Beach in Victoria, Australia, draws surfers from around the world. It hosts the Rip Curl surfing competition each year. 

Anse Source d’Argent

The Aldabra Atoll, Seychelles, one of the most underrated UNESCO sites

Photo: Eleseus/Shutterstock

On the Seychelles island of La Digue, Anse Source d’Argent is somewhat hard to get to despite being on a fairly populated island. This means it’s usually empty, and that it’s full of rare birds and tortoises.

Whitehaven Beach

Whitehaven Beach in Queensland Australia

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Australia’s Whitsunday Island is home to the stunningly beautiful Whitehaven Beach, which has incredibly fine white sand. It is one of the cleanest beaches in Australia. 

Pantai Cenang

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The Malaysian island of Langkawi has got some pretty amazing beaches, which is why it’s a hub for travelers and expats. 


Photo: Aeryon/Shutterstock

Mustique is an island privately owned by the Mustique resort in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It’s a favorite spot for the Royal Family of the UK. 

Baia dos Porcos

Photo: Cacio Murilo/Shutterstock

Baia dos Porcos is in the Fernando de Noronha archipelago off the northeast coast of Brazil. It’s beautiful, and it’s not a particularly crowded beach. Yet. 


Photo: travelview/Shutterstock

Malpais Beach in Costa Rica is scenic but also remote. Perhaps for this reason, it’s become a popular location for celebrities like Mel Gibson and Gisele Bundchen looking for a getaway. 


Photo: beboy/Shutterstock

Probably number one on the “I must go to this beach” for me on this list, and also my vote for the most beautiful beach in the world, Railay, in southern Thailand, is only accessible by boat due to the surrounding cliffs.

Big Sur

Photo: Chase Dekker/Shutterstock

California’s scenic Big Sur region has a number of great beaches. Some of them are not open to the public to protect the habitat, but others are popular surfing areas. 

Barra da Lagoa

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Barra da Lagoa is a small fishing community near Florianopolis in southern Brazil. It’s a great surfing village because the water is rock-free, there are no sharks, and it has relatively shallow water. 

Fraser Island

Dingo on Fraser Island, Australia

Photo: Darren Tierney/Shutterstock

Located in Queensland, Australia, the world’s largest sand island has a 75-mile-long beach on its east coast, which is used both as a landing strip and a highway by residents. Airplanes have right-of-way. 

Camps Bay

Camps Bay Beach in Cape Town, South Africa

Photo: Marisa Estivil/Shutterstock

Camps Bay in Cape Town, South Africa, is the best beach I’ve ever been to. It sits on the edge of an affluent suburb of Cape Town, and has awesome views of both Table Mountain and the Lion’s Head. 

The Baths

Tortola BVI beachscape

Photo: PlusONE/Shutterstock

The Baths on Virgin Gorda are named after large granite boulders that create little grottoes, alcoves, and tunnels that fill up with the tides. 

Bahia Gardner

Photo: Don Mammoser/Shutterstock

Bahia Gardner on the Galapagos Island of Espanola is known for its wildlife, including seals, marine iguanas, and many rare birds. 


Dock in Cancun

Photo: Pashu Ta Studio/Shutterstock

Though most famous for its party and Spring Break atmosphere, Cancun has a lot of really great beaches as well. 


Wild horses of maryland on the beach

Photo: Dennis W Donohue/Shutterstock

Assateague is an island off the coast of Maryland and Virginia. The beach (and the rest of the island) is known for its wild pony population. 

Madaket Beach

Photo: John Santoro/Shutterstock

Madaket sits on Nantucket Island, which is just south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. And yes, this is a real sunset there.


Photo: Jess Kraft/Shutterstock

Anakena is part of the archipelago of Rapa Nui—better known as Easter Island—off the coast of Chile. 


Photo: Alfredo Ruiz Huerga/Shutterstock

Dyrholaey is a promontory near the village of Vik in Iceland, close to the southernmost tip of the island. 

Wharariki Beach

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On the northern tip of the south island of New Zealand, Wharariki Beach is incredibly windy. According to Maori tradition, when you die, this is where your spirit jumps off into the next world. 

Black Lava Beach

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Black Lava Beach outside Vik is a black-sand beach on the southern coast of Iceland. You can get to it via the country’s famous ring road. 

Shipwreck Beach

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Shipwreck (or Navagio) Beach on the Ionian Island of Zakynthos in Greece is popular among BASE jumpers.

Punalu’u Beach

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Punalu’u is a black sand beach on the Big Island of Hawaii that is frequented by green and hawksbill turtles. 

Prince Edward Island

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Prince Edward Island is the smallest Canadian province, up in the north Atlantic. It’s typically known as a more rural area, but has some great towns and beaches.

Morro Bay

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Morro Bay, near big Sur, is a famous beach community notable for the volcanic plug called Morro Rock, visible in this picture. 

Playa del Carmen

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Playa del Carmen on the Caribbean coast of Mexico is a popular cruise stop, and was actually best known for being the ferry town to Cozumel Island before it became a famous beach destination in its own right. 

Nungwi Beach

Photo: laranik/Shutterstock

On the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar is the fishing village Nungwi. This picture is of the infinity pool at the resort there. 

The North Shore of Oahu

Photo: Valeria Venezia/Shutterstock

Oahu’s North Shore is another great surfing beach, or, if you’re me at age 11, a great beach for being lifted up and then pounded into the sand over and over again until you have sand in your sinuses for another two years. 


Photo: Jayne Lipkovich/Shutterstock

Negril is a popular resort beach on the western tip of Jamaica. It has good diving and cliff jumping at certain points along the four-mile beach. 

Lady Elliot Island

Photo: Islandjems – Jemma Craig/Shutterstock

The southernmost cay on the Great Barrier Reef has some incredible diving. Or glass-bottomed boat tours, for the uncertified or claustrophobic types. 


Photo: lazyllama/Shutterstock

Ipanema is one of the most famous beaches in the world. It is situated along the coast of Rio de Janeiro, right next to one of the other most famous beaches in the world: Copacabana. 

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