Top 25 Beach Destinations in the World
White-sand beaches, calm clear water and a bountiful barrier reef make the Turks and Caicos island of Providenciales a hot spot for families, snorkelers and divers. Some call rock-free Grace Bay Beach the best in the world. For an unusual experience, divers can walk along the ocean floor at Smith’s Reef, where underwater signs describe the reef’s ecosystem. Additional destinations include Iguana Island (home of endangered rock iguanas), the country’s only golf course, art galleries and a casino.
2 Palm/Eagle Beach, Aruba
Inhabited since the year 1000, Aruba is an island rich in history and culture. Eagle Beach is an idyllic Caribbean beach, with white sands and turquoise waters, and is frequented by water sports enthusiasts. Palm Beach, on the island’s west side, offers perfect swimming conditions and powdery sand. Those more concerned with conditions under the waves won’t want to miss the wreck of the torpedoed tanker Pedernales, a popular diving site. Aruba is only 20 miles long, thus easily explored by bike or moped.
3 Tulum, Mexico
Tulum lies south of Playa del Carmen, with lush, bougainvillea-filled jungle at its back. The town of 10,000 is divided into three separate sections, the Mayan ruins, the hotel zone and the pueblo. Popular with tour buses from Cancun, the ruins, some of the best preserved in the Yucatan, perch on cliffs along the coast.
4 Negril, Jamaica
Sure, you can leave the sunny sands in favor of a crocodile watch or horseback ride, but when the main strand is called Seven Mile Beach, it’s clear what draws most visitors to Negril. Depending on how much sun you want, you’re welcome to go topless or even sunbathe in the buff in some places.
5 Saint Pete Beach, Florida
Sugary-white sand, dolphins frolicking just off shore and eight major barrier islands make St. Pete Beach a postcard-perfect seaside destination. Situated on a peninsula off Florida’s west coast, it is an ideal place to experience the state’s wild beauty and the magical golden rays of the Sunshine State.
6 Boracay, Philippines
At only 4.5 miles long, Boracay is small enough to navigate by rented bicycle or motorbike. But don’t let its small size fool you—you’ll have several excellent beaches to choose from. Yapak Beach is known for beautiful white shells; White Beach has picture-perfect sunsets; and Balinghai Beach is a secluded spot, perfect for honeymooners. As long as you visit during dry season, you’ll agree this is one of the best beach destinations in the world.
7 Cancun, Mexico
It’s not just for spring-breakers. Cancun, with its golden beaches and perfect climate, is the premiere coastal destination in Mexico. And while there is certainly a 365-day party available for college students, resorts cater well to families and to those seeking solitude. This Yucatan paradise is also the gateway to the ruins of Tulum and Chichén Itzá.
8 Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (February 2013 Charter Location)
This is what Caribbean postcards are made of: 25 miles of white sand, swaying coconut trees and crystal-clear water. An affordable tropical getaway, Punta Cana is known for its many all-inclusive resorts. Long a getaway for European tourists, Americans are now catching on to this Dominican Republic hotspot.
9 Miami Beach, Florida
Beyond the radiant sun, surf and sand, discover Miami Beach’s rich history as an entertainment and cultural destination. From world-famous Art Deco architecture to renowned nightclubs to designer fashions, there’s so much going on in Miami Beach that you’ll need an extra hour to enjoy all that it offers.
10 Varadero, Cuba
Cuba’s top beach destination sits on a 13-mile-long peninsula with powder soft sands lapped by waters of the Kawama Channel. Resort hotels teem along the shore that U.S. celebrities and gangsters, including Al Capone, discovered in the 1920s. Sip a refreshing mojito to cool off from an all-day beach-baking session or deep sea fishing excursion.
11 Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach boasts some of the best beaches on America’s East Coast, which are distinguished by panoramic views of the Atlantic, calm waters and soft white sand. Ideal for swimming and sunbathing, Myrtle Beach also offers plenty of family attractions, making it perfect for beach-lovers with kids.
12 Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Playa, as locals call it, is located on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, about 40 miles south of Cancun. Discovered by those craving white beaches, gentle surf and outdoors activities, this once sleepy fishing village has retained its small-town charm. Buildings are low-rise, and the atmosphere is still authentic. When the sun goes down, the temperature goes up. Bars get into full swing around midnight, and Avenida Quinta transforms from a family-friendly pedestrian way to a sizzling hot spot.
13 Virginia Beach, Virginia
Virginia Beach has all the elements of a classic seaside resort: gorgeous beaches, a lively boardwalk, plenty of restaurants and nightspots, and amusement rides sure to appeal to kids. Sports enthusiasts will find celebrated golf courses in Virginia Beach and the surrounding area, as well as sea kayaking and miles of hiking trails. Many believe Virginia Beach is at its best in the off-season, when the town is less crowded but the weather is still mild.
14 Oludeniz, Turkey
The waters surrounding the small village of Oludeniz are an achingly beautiful gradient of blue. Sapphire meets seafoam green at the shoreline, where stretches of white sand are dotted with leisurely sunbathers. The scenery is even more gorgeous from above—Oludeniz is renowned as one of the world’s top spots for paragliding.
15 Honolulu, Hawaii
Honolulu is a legendary surfing destination. But even if you don’t know a boogie board from a surfboard, you’ll find a beach here that appeals to you (and, if you want to learn the difference, you can find a great instructor to teach you). Swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, outrigger canoeing or just sunbathing… it’s all available in Honolulu.
20 Cayo Coco, Cuba
This Red Sea resort town on the tip of the Sinai peninsula offers world-class diving with spectacular reefs, magnificent drop-offs and shipwrecks waiting to be explored. Mingle (carefully!) with barracudas, turtles and sharks at Shark Reef or earn diving certification in the gentler waters of Na’ama Bay. More postcard-perfect waters can be experienced at the Ras Mohammed National Park.
17 Daytona Beach, Florida
Ever since a multi-million-dollar clean-up and renovation of its beachfront area, Daytona Beach has seen more families coming to relax on the beach, stroll the boardwalk and visit nearby museums and theme parks. A hot spot for auto racing enthusiasts, the Daytona International Speedway hosts the Daytona 500 and other races.
18 Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Its stretch of gorgeous beaches, great swimming, nearly year-round sunshine, and close-to-ideal climate are Fort Lauderdale’s biggest attractions. Stroll down Las Olas Boulevard to find top-notch boutiques and restaurants. Nightlife lovers flock to the nearby Riverfront area. The city has a host of family-friendly options, too.
19 Lahaina, Hawaii
Ka’anapali Beach in Lahaina is one of Maui’s best—spend the day in the surf and sand, then return at sunset to watch the beach’s spectacular cliff-diving ceremony. But while the beaches here are phenomenal, there’s more to discover in town. Don’t miss a walk through Lahaina’s Historic District, a National Historic Landmark.
21 Marsa Alam, Egypt
The sands of the Arabian Desert spill into the Red Sea at Marsa Alam, creating a utopian setting for a Middle Eastern beach vacation. Colorful coral reefs and underwater caves make this an ideal spot for snorkeling and scuba diving, while pristine and unspoiled sands await sunbathers who long to soak up the Egyptian sun.Treat yourself to the good life at a Cayo Coco luxury resort. Here in the islands called Jardines del Rey (King’s Gardens), picture-perfect skies meet powder-white beaches and calm seas. Explore the beaches, plan a fishing trip, go horseback riding… it’s all here.
22 Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Cabo San Lucas is one of Mexico’s prime resort destinations. Located on the Baja Peninsula, Cabo boasts perfect weather and stunning beaches for water sports, world-class big-game fishing and whale watching. Cabo has something for everyone, whether it’s relaxing on the sand with a tropical drink in hand, spotting celebrities, shopping for local crafts, snorkeling, parasailing or dancing all night at one of the many fashionable clubs.
23 Rio de Janeiro, RJ
From its bustling beaches to the outrageous Carnival, Rio de Janeiro is a city that knows how to entertain, day or night. Travel through Tijuca National Park to Corcovado Mountain’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue. Take the cable car up Sugar Loaf for more views. Explore Brazilian history at the Municipal Theatre, Praca Quinze and former presidential residence, Catete Palace. Try hang gliding, surfing or a game at Maracana Soccer Stadium. Or just chill with a caipirinha on the sand.
24 Icmeler, Turkey
Don’t expect a booming nightclub scene in Icmeler—but for the travelers who’ve discovered this Turkish beach resort, that’s a huge plus. Take a boat trip to a nearby island, savor fresh seafood in a beachside café, or just soak up the sun.
25 Port d’Alcudia, Spain
Velvety white sand stretches along five miles of gentle waters in Puerto Alcudia, making it one of the longest beaches in Majorca. Go for a quiet stroll around the quaint beach-side fishing village or swim or snorkel in the electric-blue sea. Parts of the beach are a bit breezier, attracting windsurfers and paragliders galore. Interesting shops and ancient Roman ruins add to Alcudia’s allure.