1. Cala Deia, Mallorca, Spain
This shingle beach on the west coast of Mallorca is a unique seaside spot. Cliffs surround the sapphire water, and even though villas are built into those cliffs the place still feels like a hidden slice of heaven. Two seafood restaurants here let you enjoy fresh-caught seafood while eating almost-on-top of the water.
2. Playa del Amor, Marietas Islands, Mexico
A swim through an opening nearly invisible from the sea reveals what locals call the “hidden beach,” encircled by an impressive rock ring forming a natural oculus for the sun and sky. Only six visitors at a time can visit “Love Beach” via approved tour operators such as Punta Mita Adventures.
3. Navagio, Zakynthos Island, Greece
This spectacular crescent beach, accessible only by boat, is surrounded on three sides by dramatic, sheer cliffs. Still, tourists steadily stream in, eager to soak up the striking beauty of the cove’s white sands and the Ionian Sea’s azure water.
4. Makena Beach – Maui, Hawaii
Sometimes driving a bit further down the road is worth it. And on Maui, that means passing by Kihei and Wailea beaches, where resort developments are abundant, and heading instead to Makena State Park. Nicknamed Big Beach, this super-photogenic, 1½ -mile stretch of golden sand is South Maui’s largest and offers great views of Kahoolawe island and the Molokini Crater.
5. South Beach – Miami, Florida
South Beach in Miami is exciting, colorful and most definitely beautiful. The rainbow, art deco architecture that lines this beach has its own charm, But what truly makes South Beach special is the never-ending parade of people: models and wannabes, athletes and artists, locals and tourists and you can bike ride along the path to see the Miami locals, who are quite possibly the most tanned, topless and muscly people you’ll ever see. As brilliant sunshine saturates the beach’s quirky and colorful lifeguard stands, put on a pair of dark sunglasses and ogle on the sly. You’ll spy barely-there bikinis and Speedos, and brazen tattoos.
6. Bondi Beach – Sydney, Australia
Before or after work, when Sydneysiders make time to play, many heads to this picturesque urban oasis just 6 miles from the downtown business district to swim, surf, soak up some sun and grab a flat white (like a latte but with less milk and more espresso). The beach, which curves for more than a ½ mile and is backed by the boutique and cafe-lined Campbell Parade, is also home to the famed Bondi Icebergs pool and the starting point for a scenic coastal walk along sandstone cliffs to Bronte.
7. Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands
The pure white sand and clear turquoise water of the best-known bay on Providenciales are so sublime that dozens of resorts have opened here over the past two decades. The water in Turks and Caicos is a special brand of light aqua you’ll find nowhere else in the world. Coral Gardens, a small snorkeling trail at Grace Bay, has so much tropical marine life, it’s even a step above most scuba dives. This iconic stretch of white sand is just a stone’s throw from the big resorts. It looks just as spectacular from the water as from the sand, so rent a little sailboat and explore it from both angles.
8. Cas Abao Beach, Curaçao
Ringed by reefs, Curaçao hides a Caribbean underwater wonderland, and this beach is one of the few sandy ones on the arid island, with a bar and a shop to rent snorkel gear. Slip straight into the shallow crystalline bay alive with sea fans and coral, tropical fish, sponges, sea turtles, and more.
9. Maya Bay, Ko Phi Phi, Thailand
Once you get there you might be tempted to make it a full-time vacation; Ko Phi Phi is one of the world’s best beach cities where you can live comfortably for dirt cheap. There’s a reason this plush tropical beach was used as the backdrop for the cult movie The Beach, and that reason is probably that they wanted one of the world’s most gorgeous tropical beaches in the film. Or, it could just be cheaper to shoot a movie in Thailand.
10. Orient Bay Beach, St. Martin-
Not everyone wants to go to the beach to relax—here, you can party all day with the scenic white sand and blue waters as your backdrop. Plenty of bars and clubs dot the entire stretch, and since it’s so populated, getting (and staying) here is easy, as it’s only about two miles from the airport. Even more daring beachgoers will want to wander to the southern end of the stretch, where there’s an area for nudists.