Paradise found: the best beaches in the world

Discover the world's most beautiful beaches, from far-flung locations to those right on your doorstep

Sand between your toes, salty air and a gentle sea breeze – there’s nothing like a really good beach. But where are the best beaches in the world?

From hidden coves to vast stretches of golden sand and everything in between, these are the ones to visit, as voted by TripAdvisor travellers…

Baia Do Sancho, Brazil

Baia Do Sancho, Brazil - the world's best beach

Ranked as one of the top beaches in the world time and again, Baia Do Sancho sits on the small island of Fernando de Noronha, just off Brazil’s mainland. This protected little cove boasts brilliantly turquoise waters, white sand and a backdrop that’s rich in vegetation.

And if you’re into diving? Baia Do Sancho has to go on your bucket list. Immerse yourself in an underwater world filled with clownfish, green turtles, lemon sharks and more.

Grace Bay Beach, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

Beach umbrellas on Grace Bay Beach, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands, West Indies, Central America

If you were to picture a perfect beach, it would probably look something like Grace Bay. Providenciales – one is the islands that makes up the Turks and Caicos archipelago – is famed for this very beach.

Crystal clear waters lap at a silky white shoreline that’s so pristine, you’re unlikely to even see any seaweed. The nearby barrier reef is one of the best places to snorkel in the world, and calm seas mean it’s a great place to visit with children.

Playa Paraíso, Cuba

Playa Paraiso, Cuba - one of the best beaches in the world

Playa Paraíso sits at the south west tip of Cuba, and is known for its tranquil atmosphere and awesome views. The food here is great too – and where better to enjoy the local cuisine than in this picture-perfect setting?

Spiaggia dei Conigli, Lampedusa, Sicily

Spiaggia dei Conigli - or Rabbit Beach - in Italy

Part of Sicily, the island of Lampedusa attracts visitors with its rugged coastline and beautiful beaches. Whether you choose to explore the island by car or boat, Spiaggia Dei Conigli (or ‘Rabbit Beach’) is a must.

Rugged rocks lead down to the bluest of blue waters where you can swim with friendly fish or relax on the sandy shore.

Prainhas do Pontal do Atalaia, Brazil

Prainhas do Pontal do Atalaia, Brazil

East of Rio de Janeiro lies Arraial do Cabo, a small coastal town knows for its beautiful beaches. Here you’ll find Pontal do Atalaia – one beach that’s been divided into two by rocks. Soft white sand and calm green seas adorn both and you can walk the length at leisure or explore by boat.

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman - one of the best beaches in the world

The Caribbean is known for its beautiful beaches but the Seven Mile Beach has been tipped as the best.

Home to the majority of luxury resorts on Grand Cayman, you won’t be short of a stylish place along this pristine beach – which, despite it’s name, actually only measures 6.3 miles.

Eagle Beach, Aruba

Eagle Beach, Aruba

Dotted with Fofoti trees and home to nesting turtles, Eagle Beach is a beach with its own distinct character. plentiful bamboo sun shades offer shelter from the Caribbean sun, and there are plenty of water sports on offer too.

Flamenco Beach, Puerto Rico

Flamenco Beach, Puerto Rico

Situated in the northwest corner of Puerto Rico, this idyllic beach – which is distinctly lacking in flamenco dancers – offers shallow clear waters, white sand and diving spots aplenty.

The Culebra National Wildlife Refuge borders the beach. It’s one of the oldest in the United States, where more than 50,000 seabirds flock to breed and nurture their young every year.

Varadero Beach, Cuba

Varadero Beach, Cuba

Varadero Beach lies a two-hour drive east along the coast from Havana. Jutting out on a peninsula, it offers breathtaking views of the crystal clear ocean that surrounds it. Nearby facilities include a wealth of luxury hotels  and the country’s only 18-hole golf course.

Siesta Key, Florida, USA

Siesta Key Beach, Florida, USA

Floridian hotspots spots such as Miami’s South Beach might be more famous, but Siesta Key is arguably more beautiful.

Located on Florida’s west coast, this long stretch of white sand and turquoise waters is ideal for a family holiday. It boasts shallow waters, a playground and tennis courts, plus plenty of shops, bars and restaurants.

Radhanagar Beach, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India

Radhanagar Beach, Andaman and Nicobar islands - one of the best beaches in the world

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are the ultimate castaway location, thanks to their remote location in the Bay of Bengal. They are known for their palm-lined pristine beaches, including Radhanagar Beach on the western coast of Havelock Island.

Lush green trees complement the brilliant blues of the sea with romantic spots dotted all along the shoreline.

Luskentyre, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Luskentyre, Outer Hebrides, Scotland - one of the best beaches in the world

When you think of Scotland, white sandy beaches don’t normally spring to mind. But the coast of Luskentyre could be mistaken for a Caribbean treasure – with a rather cooler climate, of course.

The rugged coastline and undulating hills provide a magical backdrop for turquoise waters. It’s the perfect place to hit the reset button and you won’t believe you haven’t left the UK.

Playa de Ses Illetes, Balearic Islands, Spain

Playa de Ses Illetes, Formentera, Balearic Islands, Spain

Playa de Ses Illetes sits right at the northern tip of Formentera, the smallest of the Balearic Islands. Shallow turquoise waters melt into the rich blues of the deeper sea, with a beautiful sandy shore.

The beach is quite narrow and as such can get rather busy in the height of summer. However, the island’s year-round mild climate make it possible to avoid the crowds.

La Concha Beach, San Sebastián, Spain

La Concha Beach, San Sebastian, Spain

La Concha sits on the edge of San Sebastián, a much-loved foodie hotspot. Spend the day on the beach, and then explore the town’s narrow streets by night, taking in pintxo (tapas) bars and Michelin star restaurants.

Saint Pete Beach, Florida, USA

Saint Pete Beach, Florida

White sand and clear seas line this bustling coastal city on Florida’s west coast. Being the longest undeveloped stretch of beach in the area, it’s no wonder St Pete’s has won multiple awards and maintains its pristine beauty.

And if you tire of sunbathing or darting around the crystal waters on a jet ski, there’s plenty of entertainment on offer in the city.

Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

North of Cancún and away from the crowds is the wonderfully bohemian Playa Norte. Lined with palm trees and sun loungers, it’s a Mexican paradise that’s set up for spectacular sunsets. Ideal for enjoying some of the freshly caught seafood and a cocktail or two.

Maho Beach, Cruz Bay, St John, US Virgin Islands

Maho Beach, Cruz Bay, St John, US Virgin Islands

Set on St John, the smallest of the Virgin Islands, Maho beach is a must. This idyllic spot offers incredible sightings of sea turtles and manta rays when explored by boat, with forests that shelter cuckoos, warblers and hummingbirds back on land.

Bavaro Beach, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Bavaro Beach, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic - one of the best beaches in the world

Bavaro, on Punta Cana’s east coast, is home to white sands and palm trees aplenty – the very definition of a tropical paradise.

The calm, turquoise water of the Atlantic here make Bavaro a prime water sports spot. Enjoy snorkelling, windsurfing or even parasailing, all available to book on the beach.

Woolacombe Beach, Devon, UK

Beach huts on Woolacombe beach, Devon, UK

There’s nothing quite like the fresh salty air of the British seaside, and Woolacombe is home to one of the UK’s most beautiful beaches. Its long stretch of golden sand has a sand dune border and is dotted with traditional beach huts.

It’s an ideal spot for an ice cream in the summer, or wrapped up with fish and chips in the winter. 

Elafonasi Beach, Crete, Greece

Elafonisi Beach, Crete - one of the best beaches in the world

Another European beach that proves that you don’t need to take a long-haul flight to reach a rather unique paradise.

Located in the west of Crete, Elafonisi boasts one of the natural world’s most striking sights – a pink sand beach.

Throw in crystal clear waters and great Greek food at local restaurants and you’ve got a dream location.

Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island, Australia

Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Islands, Australia

Australia’s Whitsunday Islands are home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Whitehaven Beach is amongst them, a heavenly 7km stretch of pristine white sand.

As part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, the Whitsundays and the surrounding waters are a protected area. As a result, Whitehaven is one of the most unspoilt beaches you’ll ever see. It’s been named one of the most eco-friendly beaches in the world, too.

Cala Mariolu, Sardinia, Italy

Cala Mariolu, Baunei, Sardinia, Italy - one of the best beaches in the world

Sardinia is blessed with incredible beaches, and the island has long-drawn a celebrity crowd. Cala Mariolu on the island’s easy coast is a standout star.

The small sandy beach is juxtaposed against a rugged rocky coastline. Boat tours afford the best views – perfect for keen photographers.

Balos Lagoon, Crete, Greece

Balos Lagoon, Crete, Greece - one of the best beaches in the world

There’s something ever so appealing about the word ‘lagoon’, and that’s definitely true of Balos Lagoon in north west Crete. This special spot can be reached by boat or else a pleasant 30-minute hike from the nearest car park. Each route has its own charm and are well worth the journey.

Black Sand Beach, Vik, Iceland

Black Sand Beach at Vik, Iceland

Now here’s a beach with a real point of difference. Set on the south coast of Iceland, which is home to around 130 volcanoes (which explains the black sand), it’s a stunning and rather dramatic spot set against vast cliffs.

The wildlife here is also impressive, with multiple seabirds ready to be spotted – if you’re lucky you might even see a puffin.

More Inspiration