10. Palaui Island, Cagayan Valley, Philippines
Glorious white sands meet volcanic rocks and blue-green waters topside, while coral gardens and a rich marine reserve meet divers under the surface. Palaui is all about raw beauty. Treks to get there require battling thorny grass, muddy ground and a mangrove forest.
Highlights: With no resorts or hotels, Palaui has only two real options: camping under the stars or home stays.
The South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu broke into the headlines a few years ago when the Happy Planet Index ranked it the happiest nation on Earth. With beaches like this, how could locals not be euphoric?
Highlight: The beach gets its name from a phenomenon witnessed by the first travelers to the region — the shallow waters appear to fizz at low tide, as if the beach is swimming in bubbly. The effect is caused by gas escaping from volcanic rocks on the seafloor.
Bora Bora is like the Gwyneth Paltrow of beaches: a little too perfect to be believable. But the spell that this small island in French Polynesia has cast on probably every traveler ever to dip a toe into its soft sands or calm waters has yet to be broken. Bora Bora is a heavy tourist destination — luxury resorts and budget bungalows dapple the white sand perimeter. But its best spot, Matira Beach, reminds you why places like this become popular in the first place.
Highlight: Visitors can feed sharks, hunt for black pearls, look through World War II memorabilia or just laze on the sand.
White sands, pink granite rock formations and green peaks make for one of Tasmania’s most stunning coastal scenes. It’s part of Freycinet National Park, northeast of Hobart.
Highlights: Hiking, snorkeling, kayaking and boating are popular pastimes, but so is lying on the beach admiring the scenery.
An inappropriate name does nothing to spoil the flawless aesthetics of this lengthy strip of sand. The chair, umbrella, bracelet and Jet Ski touts might be a challenge to your good mood, but if you walk eastward away from the busy section you’ll be able to take in one of the world’s best beaches uninterrupted.
Highlight: There are strong undercurrents in the waters offshore.
Though nudity is technically banned on St. Barths, this is one of two beaches on the French Leeward Island that attracts naturists (perhaps due to its distance from developed areas). It can get windy and there’s little shade, but the photo ops are magnificent.
Highlight: A marsh area behind the beach is a habitat for tropical birds.
This ribbon of sand on the Seychelles’ third-largest island, La Dique, mixes salt-white and flamingo-pink sands to create one of the most photographed beaches in the world. A reef keeps the water calm for good snorkeling.
Highlight: Nearby restaurant Lanbousir offers local Creole dishes, including a tempting fruit-bat curry. DIY eaters can fix their own picnic with food from a supermarket just five minutes from the beach.
You need only hear the name of this beach to feel a little calmer. The pride of Provo Island is tourist heavy, but that’s because it’s one of the best (third best, we say) beaches in the world. Just offshore, a coral reef protects the beach and harbors marine life normally seen in Jacques Cousteau documentaries.
Highlight: This perfect, tranquil beach destination has few touts to disturb your lazing and abundant restaurants and resorts.
2. Rabbit Beach, Lampedusa, Italy
With blinding white cliffs, fluorescent blue waters, warm temperatures and dry-desert land, it’s little wonder this place frequently tops favorite beach lists. Protected turtles lay eggs here and dolphins can be seen in the water.
Highlight: The nearby volcanic isle of Linosa, featuring a spectacular black and red Mars-like beach.
Secluded and easy to skip because it takes some effort to get here, Grand Anse on La Digue is the archetypal beach, the benchmark against which others must be judged. It’s a must, especially if you’re a surfer.
Worth knowing: The waves can be boisterous and there’s not much shade.