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 our annual list of the Best Beaches In The World.
Using aggregated scores from previous media results, official Blue Flag locations and contributions from the Big 7 Travel editorial team, these are the most amazing beaches to visit this year (if you can’t actually visit, you can at least dream about it until you can!).
It’s a diverse list, with black sandy shores, city beaches and plenty of islands. From Myanmar to Mauritius, consider this your essential vacation guide…
Best beaches in the world 2021How do these rankings work?
Diani Beach is a private resort that’s one of the most beautiful destinations in Kenya. It’s an uncrowded, intimate little paradise on the quiet shores of the Indian Ocean, just south of Mombasa.
49th. Ngapali Beach – Ngapali, Myanmar
Myanmar has some incredible beaches that are unspoilt, but Ngapali (pronounced ‘Napoly’) on the Bay of Bengal coast is a real highlight. Palm trees line the long, white stretch of sand that’s surrounded by fishing villages.
48th. Lucky Bay – Esperance, Australia
Australia’s whitest beach, Lucky Bay, is also one of Western Australia’s most well-known gems. Its perfectly clean sand and turquoise water make it a must-visit, with the bay stretching on for 5km.
Keep an eye out for kangaroos lazing on the sand!
47th. Glass Beach – California, USA
This is no ordinary beach – Glass Beach gets its name from the smooth colourful glass pieces that make up its shore. Once a local dumping site, the glass has become pretty pebbles over the years and the beach is now a protected spot.
Check out The 7 Best Beaches In California
46th. Tangalle Beach – Sri Lanka
One of the lesser known places in Sri Lanka, Tangalle was once a sleepy fishing village and is now becoming a popular destination. If you want complete solitude, go to Silent Beach – a long, white coastline that’s pure paradise.
45th. Amanohashidate -Kyoto, Japan
While beaches aren’t the first thing that spring to mind when you think of Japan, this beautiful pine-covered sandbar is a little jewel in northern Kyoto. Its name roughly translates to “bridge in heaven”.
The scenic, sandy beach at Koekohe is mostly famous for one thing – the Moeraki Boulders. The mysteriously round stones scattered across the beach weigh several tonnes and took millions of years to form.
Early morning and late afternoon are the prime times for photography, when brilliant soft sunlight is cast across the rocks.
43rd. Champagne Beach – Vanuatu
One of the world’s most picturesque beaches, this spot has clear blue waters and sparkling sand. At Champagne Beach you will also find fresh fruit stalls, freshly prepared crab and lobster and cute beachside shacks.
42nd. Monterosso Al Mare – Italy
The largest of the five coastal towns that make up the famous Cinque Terre region, Monterosso’s beach has beautiful reefs and crystal clear waters. It does get crowded during peak summer-time, but lounging underneath an umbrella here is worth the busyness.
Check out The 7 Most Beautiful Beaches In Europe
41st. Belle Mare – Mauritius
If powder-white sand and coral reefs are your thing, then Belle Mare beach is heaven. It’s on the south coast of the island and is surrounded by unspoilt nature, with only a few hotels and luxury villas.
The coral reef offshore creates a lagoon, so the water is perfect for swimming.
40th. Monach Isles – Scotland
These remote islands in the Outer Hebrides have beautiful untouched beaches, rocky ledges and endless dunes. Beaches here are wild and rugged, and it’s not unusual to have the entire stretch of sand all to yourself.
39th. Ipanema Beach – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Copacabana might have all the fame, but this beach is where it’s all happening nowadays. In an artsy and creative area of the city, the beach is bordered by Arpoador Beach on one end and Leblon Beach on the other end.
It’s popular and busy and full of activity, with real party vibes.
Check out The 7 Best Beach Bars In Rio De Janeiro
38th. Golden Sands – Bulgaria
Golden Sands beach is nearby Varna, and is one of the most beautiful – if not the most – beaches in the region. The water is clear and a perfect temperature for swimming, and the sand lives up to its name.
37th. Agiba Beach – Marsa Matrouh, Egypt
Agiba Beach is one of the most beautiful virgin beaches in the world; roughly 40 metres long, the clean sand and waters of the beach are tucked between cliffs. Climb up one of the cliffs for an astonishing view of the Mediterranean, or simply splash straight into the water.
36th. Gouverneur – St. Barts
It’s a bit of a drive to get here, but once you do you’ll be rewarded with an amazing beach. The colours of the water are like no other that you’ll ever see. There’s great snorkelling and swimming, too.
Rumour has it Captain Monbars, “The Exterminator,” buried his stolen treasure in a hidden cave here!
Check out The 7 Best Caribbean Islands For Couples
35th. Psarou Beach – Mykonos, Greece
There’s no shortage of stunning beaches in Mykonos, but this cosmopolitan stretch of white sand is a must-see. Psarou beach, with its turquoise waters and sheltered bay, is popular with celebrities and there’s often large yachts.
There’s a waiting list in peak season for beds, but it’s worth it – pure paradise.
Check out The 7 Best Beach Bars In Mykonos
34th. Praia do Camilo – Lagos, Portugal
Make your way down the 200 wooden steps which wind along the orange cliffs to reach this golden, sandy beach. You’ll see the Ponta da Piedade nearby, a landmark rock formation with grottoes and rock arches.
This really puts Lagos on the map.
33rd. Abu Dhabi Corniche Beach – UAE
Abu Dhabi’s immaculate Corniche beachfront is a fantastic city beach, where the seaside boardwalks overlook the Arabian Gulf. With the skyscrapers in the background and a Blue Flag bathing status, it’s ideal.
During the week you can usually find a beach umbrella, but during the weekend they may all go quickly, so come early.
Check out The 7 Best Bars In Abu Dhabi
32nd. Jagodna Bay – Hvar, Croatia
Hvar has plenty of picture-perfect beaches, but this especially beautiful cove is a highlight. It’s located between Sveta Nedjelja and Ivan Dolac, and has pebble beaches, crystal clear waters and thick pine forests.
The water is warm and the sand squeaky clean – perfection.
Check out The 7 Best Islands In Croatia To Visit
31st. Palombaggia Beach – Porto-Vecchio, Corsica
This is the most famous beach on the island, and we can see why. The beach at Palombaggia is one of Corsica’s finest, with fine white sand. It faces gorgeous blue seas, and is lined with beautiful pine trees, with the Cerbicales islands in the distance.
30th. Negril – Jamaica
This idyllic beach has palms swaying in the breeze, clear blue waters and fresh coconuts to sip on. Treasure Beach is a seven-mile stretch of coral-coloured sand and rocky shores.
Check out 7 Unmissable Things To Do In Jamaica
29th. Seven Mile Beach – Cayman Islands
One of the most famous beaches in the world, Seven Mile Beach is among the many reasons why Cayman is considered an ideal tropical destination. With sparkling waters and coral sands it’s so perfect it almost doesn’t look real.
Sunsets here are unforgettable, and you can also enjoy world-class snorkelling.
28th. Ao Tanot Bay – Koh Tao, Thailand
This peaceful island in the Gulf of Thailand has plenty of sheltered bays, but Tanot is the most beautiful. It’s uncrowded with warm, blue water and soft sand.
Snorkelling is excellent here, with a great variety of coral and some fairly large fish that can be seen as soon as you dip your toes into the water.
Check out The 7 Most Beautiful Beaches In Thailand
27th. South Beach Miami – Florida, USA
South Beach (SoBe) sums up Miami to tee – it’s trendy and quirky with a glittering nightlife. Chill out at the beach itself or take in South Beach’s historic Art Deco architecture.
South Beach also has a whimsical collection of colourful lifeguard huts – a definite must-see. It’s fun and totally unique to Miami.
Check out The 7 Best Beaches In Florida
26th. Elafonisi Beach – Greece
Once a local secret, this unusual pink beach has become a popular destination in recent years. The fine white sand is pinkish at several spots because of the crushed seashell powder.
It’s connected by a sandbar to an island nature reserve, so you can stroll along the shore and enjoy the view.
Check out The 7 Best Greek Islands To Visit
25th. Seminyak Beach – Bali, Indonesia
Seminyak Beach has a splendid coast of gold to dark sand and gorgeous sunsets, with a lively vibe and lots of beach bars.
The impressive 5km stretch of sand is lined with sunset cocktail spots, luxury resorts and colourful bean bags, just steps away from the waves.
Check out The 7 Best Islands In Asia To Visit
24th. Baia delle Zagare – Puglia, Italy
With white cliffs overhanging the sea, and impossibly clear blue water, it’s no wonder this beach is award-winning. The coastline water ranges in shades from blue to turquoise, to emerald.
There’s three beaches in the bay; one can be reached through a path, another is only for hotel guests of Hotel Baia delle Zagare, and the last can be reached only from sea.
23rd. Maundays Bay – Anguilla
Maundays Bay might not have the grand size of Rendezvous Bay and Shoal Bay, but it makes up for it with its white-sand shores and clear, azure waters. It’s what you imagine the perfect Caribbean island to look like.
At night, you can see the lights from neighbouring St. Martin island. It’s beautiful.
22nd. Pedn Vounder – Cornwall, England
One of Cornwall’s prettiest beaches, Pedn Vounder among the stunning cliffs of Treryn Dinas, with crystal clear blue water and a beautiful white sand beach. Who needs a tropical island when you have this charming Cornwall spot?
21st. Sunset Beach – Oahu, Hawaii
Sunset Beach is known as one of the longest stretches of rideable surf in the world, with a wide, sandy stretch to relax on. In the winter months, you can watch big-wave surfing with swells up to 30 feet tall, along with the world’s premier surfing competitions.
Check out The 7 Best Beaches In Hawaii
20th. Maho Beach – St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Maho beach has it all. A coconut palm fringed beach, light surf, white sand – it’s no wonder that it’s considered the jewel of St. John. It’s part of Virgin Islands National Park and is free for all to enjoy.
The water is usually calm, with shallow areas and tropical fish. Keep an eye out for turtles swimming nearby.
19th. Playa del Amor (Hidden Beach) – Mexico
This secret ‘Lovers Beach’ is invisible from the outside, and is only accessible via a water tunnel that links the Pacific Ocean to the beach. The beautiful beach is on the uninhabited Marieta Islands.
The open hole reveals a soft, golden stretch of sand with sparkling blue waters and natural wildlife. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime sight.
18th. Zlatni rat (Golden Horn Beach) – Brac, Croatia
The Golden Horn is the most spectacular of all Croatia’s beaches. It’s not just its shape that makes it so beautiful and unique. The pebble beach is surrounded by crystal clear sea, that goes from turquoise blue to dark blue in just 10-20 meters.
Decades-old pine trees provide shade, but you won’t want to get out of the warm waters here.
Check out The 7 Best Islands In Croatia To Visit
17th. Horseshoe Bay – Bermuda
Named for its curving shape, the popular Horseshoe Bay Beach showcases Bermuda’s trademark crystal blue waters and pink sands. There’s also hidden caves and tucked-away coves to explore.
It’s probably the most photographed beach in Bermuda, and for good reason.
16th. Matira Beach -Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Matira Beach is actually the only public beach on the main island, and it just so happens to be the most beautiful one. With white sands and gorgeous lagoon waters, it’s pure paradise.
It’s postcard-perfect – especially when the sun starts to go down as you watch from a waterfront bar.
15th. Tunnels Beach – Kauai, Hawaii
Tunnels Beach (Makua) is an ultimate snorkelling spot, with the picturesque backdrop of Mount Makana and lush jungles. Lava tubes form the many underwater caverns here, which gives the beach its name.
The water can get rough during winter, so keep an eye on the tides.
14th. Seagrass Bay – Laucala Island, Fiji
You won’t believe the green of the Sea Grass Bay’s coastline. This jaw-dropping bay at a luxury private resort island in Fiji is on a tropical jungle section of the island, with lush vegetation and wild growing coconuts as a natural backdrop to the white sandy coastline.
13th. Cala Saona – Formentera, Spain
Ibiza might be better known, but the neighbouring island of Formentera is just a short boat ride away and boasts one of the best beaches in the world. Formentera has over 20 km of beaches, from rocky coves through to white sand beaches, but Cala Saona is the prettiest.
Check out The Best Beaches in Spain here
12th. Boulders Beach – Cape Town, South Africa
Boulders Beach has something you won’t find anywhere else in the world – you can get close to African Penguins, who nest by the beach. Summer is prime time to visit Boulders, and it’s when you’ll see the most penguin action.
The cool, clear False Bay water and rock pools are an added bonus.
11th. Keem Bay – Mayo, Ireland
Keem Bay is a breathtaking rural and sheltered beach surrounded by cliffs on Ireland’s largest island – Achill Island. Its gleaming white sand rivals tropical islands and the water is superbly clear.
The sun might not always be shining, but when it does it’s world-class. And yes, it’s beautiful even on a rainy day.
You’ve surely seen this Insta-famous beach all over social medial. Big Major Cay in the Exumas is uninhabited and the pigs are not native to the island, so it’s still not known how the pigs first got there.
Book a day trip boat ride to see this beach’s pristine waters and swim with piglets.
It’s hard to pick just one beach in the Maldives, as all the luxury resorts have incredible sandy shores. This resort is on three private islands—two deserted neighbouring islands and Kanuhura itself— with pristine beaches.
Whether you try water activities or just lounge on the sand is up to you.
Check out The 7 Best Overwater Maldives Resorts
8th. Playa Ruinas – Quintana Roo, Mexico
This unique beach on the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula is pure paradise. It’s considered one of the best beaches in the Riviera Maya, with gleaming white sand and dramatic cliffs.
But the real showstopper? It’s the backdrop of the famous Ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum.
7th. Source d’Argent – Seychelles
Famous for being one of the most photographed beaches in the world, this tranquil beach is a great place for wading into the shallow, warm waters of the Indian Ocean.
You walk through the old L’Union Estate coconut plantation to access the beach, which has unusual bolders and shimmering sand. You may even spot a sea turtle swimming off the shore!
6th. Reynisfjara Beach – Vík í Mýrdal, Iceland
If tropical beaches aren’t your thing, be sure to visit this beautiful black sand beach in Iceland. With enormous basalt stacks that rise out of the sea and unusual black sand, this is an unforgettable beach.
You might recognise it from Season 7 of the HBO Series Game of Thrones.
El Nido is a cluster of 45 islands just off the tip of Palawan, which is famous for its Secret Lagoon. Swim through a hole in the limestone rocks to enter a hidden bay with crystal clear water and soft sand.
It feels untouched, with white sandy beaches and tropical jungle.
4th. Grace Bay – Turks and Caicos
This pristine beach is the shining jewel of the Turks and Caicos Islands. The entire beach is just over 3km long, with no pollution – just pure, white sand and clean water.
A barrier reef found a 1.6km out protects Grace Bay from the ocean swells of the Atlantic, so you can swim with ease.
3rd. Fig Tree Bay – Protaras, Cyprus
Fig Tree Bay is a scenic sandy beach in the resort of Protaras, Cyprus, with an uninhabited islet that you can swim to from the shore.
The beach has golden sand, lively beach bars and plenty of umbrellas to shelter from the sun. It’s popular, so don’t expect an empty beach, but it’s so pretty you won’t mind sharing.
2nd. Whitehaven Beach – Whitsunday Islands, Australia
Whitehaven Beach stretches over 7 km and boasts brilliant white silica sand that is among the purest in the world. It’s right in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, and is one of the world’s most unspoiled and beautiful beaches.
Because of the silica, the sand doesn’t retain heat, so it’s a fantastic place to walk on barefoot, even on a hot day.
1st. Vaeroy Beach – Norway
Remote Vaerøy beach is on an island that belongs to the Lofoten archipelago, with just a small number of people living here. The amazing views of coastline from the top of the cliffs is unbeatable. Wild, craggy shores look out onto the Arctic water, which are warmer than you might expect.
This proves that you don’t have to be in the warm tropics to experience a world-class beach.