Whether you’re seeking a sandy stretch that feels like it’s your alone, hidden bays on tropical islands or buzzing party spots, we have all the top spots on this year’s list of the Best Beaches In The World.
5. Blue Beach (La Chiva), Vieques, Puerto Rico
A long, thin stretch of white sand and clear water makes this one of the Caribbean’s top beaches. Getting there is part of the adventure: It can only be accessed by parking in one of 21 tiny turn-offs along a bumpy, unpaved road in the middle of the island’s western National Wildlife Refuge (formerly off-limits as a U.S. Navy training base). Snorkel on your own around a small cay, or book a trip with one of the island’s operators to check out its secret underwater spots.
4. Sunset Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
One of the world’s best places to watch big wave surfing in winter (the beach is home to the Vans Triple Crown), the water here becomes as calm as a lake in summer, making it an excellent spot for snorkeling. After a day spent in the sand and surf, don’t towel off and head home just yet: As its name suggests, it’s the sunsets that really seal the deal for visitors.
3. Banana Beach, Koh Hey (Coral) Island, Phuket, Thailand
Banana Beach has a backdrop of impossibly-green jungle and looks out on crystal-clear water—all part of a national park and marine preservation area (30 minutes by boat from Chalong Pier on Phuket). Banana Boat rides are popular, hence the name, as is snorkeling, sea kayaking, and parasailing. With minimal infrastructure, and one restaurant built out of bamboo, this is a great, less-than-crowded spot to park yourself for the day in the sun.
2. Psarou Beach, Mykonos, Greece
Mykonos isn’t lacking in beaches—especially those that appeal to just about any taste. Psarou might not be one of the largest, but its bling factor is undeniable and its position at the head of a perfect, horseshoe bay, is unbeatable. Scores of restaurants and bars back the sandy beaches. There are plenty of water sports to take advantage of, too. Seating is tight—and chic—on the beach, but there are nice walks to be had to nearby Platis Gialos for the more active beachgoers.
1. Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Located on the western shore of the 75-square-mile island, the whole stretch of this 5.5 mile-long beach is public property, making it easy to stroll from hotel to hotel regardless of where you book an overnight. All in one afternoon, you can grab lunch at an ocean-side restaurant, stumble into a volleyball game with locals, take Jet Skis out further down the beach, and top it off with some snorkeling in Cemetery Reef, known for its rocky formations prime for sea life habitat.