The world’s 10 best beaches

They come in all shapes and sizes, from sand to rocky, placid seas to monstrous swells, it seems there is a beach for everyone. Here’s our pick of the world’s 10 best beaches, and don’t worry, they’re not all tropical island getaways – we’ve tried to cater to every taste.

Matira Beach, Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Let’s start with a classic. Think archetypal desert island beach and Bora Bora probably springs to mind. Part of the archipelago that makes up French Polynesia, this idyllic island has its fair share of exquisite bathing spots. The most famous beach on the Pacific island paradise, is Matira. Characterised by chalk white sand, warm, shallow turquoise sea and a back drop of lush green hills, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa

Nestled south of Cape Town, at the tip of the African continent, is Boulders Beach. This stunning bay is dotted with vast round granite boulders, some up to 540 million years old. The beach is perfect for swimmers thanks to its sheltered inlets, a bonus for the bay’s other residents – a flock of African penguins. In all, around 3000 penguins call Boulders Beach home.

Long Set Beach, Koh Rong, Cambodia

In recent years, Cambodia has been placed firmly on the backpacking circuit with the largely untouched Koh Rong island asserting itself as the new Koh Phangan. But take the jungle track away from all the hostels and you’ll discover Long Set Beach. This perfectly curved wide bay has sand so pure it squeeks when you walk on it. The crystal clear sea often comes to life with bio luminescence as the sun goes down and, if you’re lucky, you could well have this remote paradise all to yourself.

Myrtos Beach, Kefalonia, Greece

One for dedicated sun seekers, the beach at Myrtos Bay on the Greek island of Kefalonia is spectacular. Arguably the best beach in all of Greece, a country with a lot of sea and shore, Myrtos beach is loomed over by imposing limestone cliffs and strewn with bright white pebbles. A mile and a half long, the approach to Myrtos beach from the cliffs above is truly breath-taking.

Halfmoon Bay, Jamaica

Secluded, calm and totally tropical, you couldn’t have run down a list of the world’s best beaches without including a gem from the Caribbean and Jamaica’s Halfmoon Bay is just that. Off the beaten track, yet close to tourist hotspot Negril, Halfmoon Bay is hugged by mangroves and oozes a relaxed Jamaican vibe. It’s one of the best places we can think of to really get away from it all and slow down.

Rainbow Beach, Queensland, Australia

Rainbow Beach is a small town in southern Queensland and the beach that borders it is world-class. Perfect for people who like their beach days a little more active, the wide bay is backed by large, golden dunes and buffeted by crisp turquoise waves just waiting to be surfed, Dramatic, remote and effortlessly mellow, Rainbow Beach is a real Australian gem.

Head of the Meadow Beach, Cape Cod, US

Head of the Meadow Beach is as wild and rugged as they come. Ringed by sand dunes, the large bay slopes down into the bracing waters of the North Atlantic. Not one for sunbathers, this stunning beach is the preserve of walkers and can be enjoyed all year round. What’s more, once you’ve had enough of the beach, New York City is just over four hours drive away.

Aharen Beach, Tokashiki Island, Japan

Think tropical beaches and Japan isn’t likely to spring to mind. But it’s precisely the unexpected beauty of Aharen Beach that makes it so special. Remote Tokashi Island is on the same latitude as Grand Bahama so experiences the same weather conditions as the Caribbean, with talcum white sand, tropical fish, and turquoise waters to match.

Baio do Sancho, Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

Baio do Sancho has been voted the world’s best beach on more than one occasion, and it’s not hard to figure out why. As well as being one of Brazil’s best dive spots, the pristine white sand beach on the main island of the Fernando de Noronha archipelago plays host to all kinds of exotic wildlife, from turtles to Bottlenose dolphins.

Traigh Eais, the Outer Hebrides, Scotland

And now for the wild card. Travel beyond the most northerly point on the UK mainland and you’ll reach eventually the Outer Hebredies. They may be cold and weather beaten, but the beaches on these remote islands are stunning, with Traigh Eais the stand out winner. Windswept and raw, the beach on the Isle of Barra has the UK’s highest sand dunes and is a sight to behold.

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