It’s an aggressive statement, to anoint such an exclusive list, but we’ve been a few places, and these are, hands down, the most stunning beaches in the world. It’s no surprise they are mostly off the beaten track, and some even require a helicopter or boat to walk on their surreally white sand. These beaches will remind you that yes, the world is a beautiful place. So here’s your mind candy for the day — the six most beautiful beaches in the world. If we’re doing our job right, some of these may even make your vacation bucket list. We expect that this article will create spirited discussion. You know how much we like that.
There are few places in the world where you can be completely disconnected. The Whitsundays is one of them. These remote islands off of Queensland, Australia have zero contamination from human development. Located along the Great Barrier Reef, you will be hard pressed to find more beautiful waters for snorkeling, scuba diving and just chilling in a glass-bottom boat. Whitehaven Beach, a 7-kilometer stretch of shore, should be on your bucket list.
The sand and sea are unmatched. The 98% pure silica sand is so fine that you can clean diamonds with it. Due to intense regulations against cigarette smoke, dog presence and other pollutants, the beach has been kept as clean as if people never touched it. You’ll have to pack your own food as there aren’t any hotels or restaurants on the islands, but it’s a small price to pay for the glorious day trips you can take. Or, if you’re adventurous, you can camp at one of the many camp sites on the islands.
We recommend taking a boat to the beach, or boarding a seaplane or helicopter to get an aerial tour of all the surrounding beaches and reefs. You’ll see Heart Reef, a natural reef formation that, you guessed it, looks like a heart. Nature can be pretty magical sometimes, and the Whitsundays land firmly as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
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You might not have heard of Benguerra Island in Mozambique, but you’re going to want to put this place on your list. Think tropical island getaway in the Caribbean, but without all the crowded spaces and pollution. Then, add in local culture, shimmering white sand and authentic hotels.
On Benguerra Island, you can circumnavigate the island entirely on sand. A diver’s dream, the turquoise waters beckon with their shades of blue. Special sandbars that only reveal themselves at low tide make for perfect day trips. And on the beach, you’ll be able to relax in the shade of the low-hanging palms during the day or sleep under the millions of stars at night. The resorts and hotels along the island are also some of the most authentic yet luxurious in a castaway sort of way. But they are especially glorious because you are so remote and away from the rest of the world.
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Our favorite low-key luxury hotel is the new Azura Benguerra which consists of oceanside villas with private pools and patios. They make you feel like royalty, while keeping it real. We love that your lunch of grilled fish will be caught moments before you eat it. There’s also an &Beyond property in Mozambique that we’re going to cover for the holidays. All in all, it’s a lifetime trip for the adventurous 1% of travelers in the world.
Tetiaroa. A tiny atoll in French Polynesia. Maybe you’ve heard of it. This small collection of islands is a dream destination for the rich and famous, who make their pilgrimage here from all over the world. Because it’s so remote, the islands and their beaches are pristine, as if never a billionaire did step foot on the sand. Pictures of this place speak thousands of words.
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Check out our feature on The Brando — it’s a Galavante favorite. Thanks to Marlon Brando, whose eponymous resort provides public access to the famous atoll, we can all now plan our vacations to the magic white sand beaches. The six islands circle a 3-mile-wide lagoon that is completely enclosed and protected by coral inlets. The small reserve is a sanctuary for many bird species and marine life. Guests always enjoy dolphin spotting. The Brando rests on sacred ground that originally was an exclusive retreat for Tahitian royalty. Subsequently The Brando is regarded as one of the most luxurious places to celebrate a honeymoon or other milestone life achievement.
If you’re the kind of person who will adventure anywhere for the beach, La Digue is for you. The island no doubt has some of the cleanest waters with powdery white sand. But the little development and predominantly motor-free island makes getting to the beach a challenge, and part of the adventure that makes it so rewarding. When you reach the island by boat, you rent a bike to take the 4-mile or so ride to the beach. This is an adventure itself.
The best beach, Grand Anse, requires a rocky hike between each the four beaches. It’s a full day excursion to make it there and back. The beach progressively gets more beautiful, and the hike is worth it. Large rock formations frame the glistening sea, which has perfect surfing waves. The long 20-meter stretch of white sand also seems as if made for sunbathing as the coastline is flat and there are few visitors. You should bring food because they do not have a snack bar, but the unkempt, surrounding wildlife makes you feel like you’re a castaway in a faraway place, in the best way.
No work calls or other distractions can take you away from the peace and quiet of the calm waves. You won’t see many visitors, but you might run into some locals selling fruity drinks. We don’t recommend taking food from strangers, but this might be the one exception. Somehow you won’t taste the alcohol at all, which might be the best, or worst, thing.
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Six Senses Zil Pasyon is a short boat ride away from La Digue. We have one word: spa. This is one of the best wellness retreats in all of the Seychelles. You can also charter a boat from the hotel and make the pilgrimage to the La Digue beaches via water.
Turks & Caicos
For anyone willing to board a plane, Turks & Caicos is the best country in the world for all-around great beaches. The highly developed islands rely on tourism and have some of the nicest hotels, restaurants, and clubs to visit. But the hotels really are there to complement the tropical wonderland they were built on.
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Our favorite spots, Amanyara and Parrot Cay, feature stunning white sand beaches with calm waves and lustrous azure waters. Grace Bay Beach, a 13-mile stretch along the coast, has shallow, clear waters that are perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Adults can walk out for yards without the water becoming too deep to stand, which makes for idyllic conditions for lounging and cooling off. The colors of the sea do not disappoint, reflecting the blue of the sky during the day and the colors of the sunsets at evening. The beach also has plenty of restaurants and hotels that line the shore so when you’re ready for refreshments, you’re only a step away.
We know this isn’t a beach, but rather a hotel. Whatever the definition, Amanpulo belongs on the list of the most beautiful beaches in the world. If you ever find yourself on Pamalican Island in the Philippines, you are very lucky. Better yet, if you find your way to Amanpulo, you will never want to go to another beach again. While many islands feature the white sand and turquoise waters we’ve been mentioning, Pamalican Island is on steroids. The waters aren’t just blue, but 50 shades of blue and turquoise with the softest sand you’ll ever touch.
The island can only be accessed by seaplane, which is privately chartered by Aman, so you won’t be interrupted or face crowds on the beach. The whole island can be circumnavigated in about an hour and a half, and there’s plenty to explore along the entire coast.
While these beaches are perfect for kayaking, water skiing, fishing and snorkeling, the highlight comes around during the months of March and October. Baby turtles hatch from their eggs and make their first journey to the sea, and it’s a lifetime experience to witness. If you think you’ve seen cute, you haven’t until you’ve seen the small hatchlings scuttle at dusk into the open ocean. Aman also has the best seafood in the whole world — we still dream of the lobster and crab.