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The world’s best beach destinations

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The beach is almost synonymous with travel: when asked to picture a typical vacation, a tropical idyll is often the first scene that comes to mind. Many ocean-lapped destinations enjoy global recognition for their stunning coastlines and remote archipelagos – the likes of Greece, Italy, Thailand, the Caribbean, to name a few. In this list of best beach destinations, we’ve included some familiar favorites alongside some sea-worn jewels that you may not have expected.

Let this rundown of the best beach destinations fuel your plans for your next coastal adventure – soon enough, you’ll be rushing off to pack your swimming gear.

Maldives

The Maldives get people twinkly-eyed for a reason – the balmy beaches and warm, tropical waters make it the dream honeymoon getaway. In recent years, however, this idyllic archipelago is making a name for itself as a center of sustainability and ecotourism. As a country whose environments are directly impacted by rising sea levels, marine conservation is big here – and there are plenty of chances to get involved while enjoying some typically wonderful Maldivian experiences. 

A growing number of accommodations in the Maldives are eco-friendly – with a focus on solar power, water conservation and sustainably-sourced cuisine. Snorkeling or diving trips can be accompanied with a marine expert, who will offer education around the protection of the coral reef, as well as the clown fish, whale sharks, dolphins and sea turtles that inhabit it, and their importance to the delicate ecosystem.  

Alongside the expected luxuries – al fresco candlelit dinners, gorgeous ocean views, boutique-style rooms – these eco resorts in the Maldives also offer ‘greener’ island experiences such as rejuvenating cycling tours, morning yoga sessions, and turtle or manta ray monitoring. 

If you lean towards being eco-conscious (and shouldn’t we all) when traveling, you’ll have your expectations more than surpassed on a trip to the stunning Maldives. Get in touch with our local experts to hear more.

Philippines

Seeking a beach getaway in South East Asia, the majority head direct to Thailand – but there are endless routes to paradise in this part of the world. The Philippines, for instance, which squeezes countless miles of palm-fringed beaches into its many thousands of islands. 

Palawan alone is considered one of the most beautiful islands in the world – and when you’ve secured a spot on the warm sands of El Nido, with its limestone karst formations that erupt from the clear sea, you’ll understand why. For more extreme ocean enthusiasts, nearby Coron is also an excellent spot for wreck diving.

A favorite for surfers, drop down in Siargao Island for a laid-back, hipster vibe. A supreme surf spot due to its ‘Cloud 9’ break, it’s also great for its markets, scenic sunset cruises and extensive mangroves. Nearby Siquijor Island is covered in volcanic landscape and huge lakes; hunting inland for hidden waterfalls is a glorious way to spend the day.

Of course, there are hundreds of beaches here, but the Philippines is more than that – it’s a multi-faceted travel destination with an effervescent, lively culture and warm people. Once you’re bored of sun-lounging and sipping from a coconut (if that time ever comes), there are natural escapades to be had searching for tarsiers and hiking the Chocolate Hills of Bohol, or getting to grips with the frenetic, diverse city life of Manila. Chat to our local experts to arrange a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Philippines.

Zanzibar

Travelers are drawn to Africa for its storybook wildlife, expansive vistas, dense jungles and promise of true adventure – but its coastal delights are just as phenomenal. A short distance off the coast of Tanzania, the islands of Zanzibar are the epitome of a tropical paradise. The soft, white-sand beaches here are some of the best in the world, inviting serene days of sunbathing and reading. The East beaches are popular, and highly scenic – with the Indian Ocean glowing a bright teal.

When you fancy a wander, however, there’s lots to do for a dose of culture, history and heritage. The main Unguja Island (often referred to simply as ‘Zanzibar’) is home to the UNESCO-protected Stone Town – a maze of old heritage buildings of African, Indian, Arabic and Persian influence which mostly date to the 18th and 19th centuries. Here you can find the ‘House of Wonders’ – one of the grandest structures of the island once built for a sultan. From here explore the Palace Museum, the imposing Old Fort, and a glut of mosques and churches that represent Swahili life throughout various periods of colonization.

Another must-do is a spice tour – with Zanzibar, ‘the Spice Island’ being one of the world’s most prolific growers of cloves; its plethora of fragrant exports also include saffron, vanilla, cinnamon, black pepper, turmeric and cardamom. On a tour you can learn about Zanzibar’s long spice cultivating heritage and its importance in the world’s spice trade, breathing in the rich aromas as you do so.

Zanzibar can be visited on its own or as a four-five day excursion while visiting the wonders of mainland Tanzania. Get in touch with our local experts to add it into your custom itinerary.

Mexico

Surrounded on almost all sides by 5,800 miles of coast, you can’t beat marvelous Mexico when you’re pining for a beach getaway. Its world-renowned beaches are lapped with shimmering, azure waters and backed by swathes of green forests – so it’s unsurprising that tourists come to Mexico in their busloads. With this in mind, getting some local insight into the quieter beach locations is a great way to diversify your sun-chasing.

The most renowned spots to dip your toes and sprawl out under a parasol include Tulum, Playa del Carmen and the rest of the Yucatan Peninsula – all popular due to their gorgeous turquoise seas, white sand and plentiful amenities. The stunning Isla Mujeres off the coast of Cancun is not so much ‘lesser-visited’ – it’s also highly popular – but a world away from the crowds of Cancun’s mainland.

Those looking to fill their boots with exquisite eats and lounge on quieter beaches, however, should head to Oaxaca (pronounced Wa-ha-ca). Oaxaca is home to the bohemian vibe of Mazunte beach, and nearby San Agustinillo, a quiet fishing village, among others – all can come as a refreshing change to the sun-splashed resort favorites. You can finish your beach days with culinary excellence – pulled pork tacos, lime-spritzed tamales and mezcal shots galore – then wake up ready to do it all again tomorrow. 

Albania

Oft-overshadowed by pebbly, clear-watered Croatia (which could easily have its own entry on this list), Albania is drawing a growing stream of visitors for its sprawling expanses of sand lapped by the glittering Ionian and Adriatic seas. The perk of Albania’s beaches is their unspoiled beauty; though Eastern Europeans enjoy their local coastline, the country receives only a fraction of the tourist footfall of its heavyweight neighbors in the Mediterranean.

Head to Kakome Bay for a sample of the country’s secluded coastline; it’s one of the most untouched beaches in the country. Surrounded by lush sloped forests and hills, it’s an immersive, natural setting in which to swim. Nearby is the seaside resort town of Himare, so there’s the chance to find beers or a cozy restaurant when you’re ready to rejoin civilization.

As much of the coast is south-facing, of particular note is Albania’s sensational sunsets. To enjoy an al fresco dinner amidst a pink haze, get a spot at Ksamil Beach near Saranda. The rugged cliffs at Dhermi are particularly atmospheric as the evening draws in, while the long shore at Jale Beach offers plenty of spots to lay back and enjoy the sky gently changing color.

Witness Albania’s simply stunning beaches in an itinerary full of its relatively untouched natural wonders – chat to our locally-based travel experts to start planning.

Make it happen

If the above has whet your appetite for a beach vacation with a difference, get in touch with our locally-based travel experts by clicking on the destination links above. They can discuss your priorities for a coastal holiday and create the perfect itinerary for you.

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