21 Gorgeous Beaches with the Clearest Water in the World
You don't need a crystal ball to tell you where your next vacation will be when you have these clear water beaches waiting for you once it's safe to travel again.
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Clear water beaches galore
Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world are so gorgeous because of their pristine, almost transparent water. Sadly, in today’s hyper-polluted world, beaches with water this clear look almost otherworldly—but they do exist! Unfortunately, the United States doesn’t boast much in the way of clear beaches (though one American beach does make the list). But there are still plenty of stunning places worldwide where the clarity of the water is downright breathtaking. Fair warning: They’ll make you want to pack a beach bag and book a trip! For more natural marvels, plan a trip to one of these beaches without sand, stunning black sand beaches you didn’t know existed or plan one of these affordable beach vacations.
Ypao Beach, Tumon, Guam
The American territory of Guam is filled with stunning jungles, breathtaking mountains, and of course, stunning beaches. While the island is filled with incredible hidden gems, Ypao Beach is easy to access and in close proximity to Tumon’s vibrant cityscape. Despite the plethora of nearby amenities, this long, luxurious beach is the perfect hideaway from the nearby hustle and bustle of the city. Snorkeling in Tumon Bay can’t be beat, and there is both a sandy paradise and grass-covered space on the shore to enjoy any beach-day activities you could want. Guam is also home to the Mariana Trench.
La Chiva, Vieques, Puerto Rico
Set in the middle of the island’s National Wildlife Refuge, this stretch of coastline, formerly known as Blue Beach, is a true paradise in the heart of Puerto Rico. This beach won’t be overcrowded—the only access points are 21 tiny turnoffs on an unpaved road far off the beaten path. It’s a great spot for snorkeling and walking along the sandy coastline, and it’s well known for its incredible gradient of blues. Speaking of cool colors: You have to see these gorgeous pink sand beaches.
Lanikai Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
The words “lani kai” translate to “heavenly ocean,” and it’s an apt description of this stretch of beach. It can be a bit tricky to find, but that’s part of what makes it such a paradise, away from the bustle of tourist traffic in Oahu. The breathtaking blue water will captivate you, but don’t expect miles of sandy beaches to walk nearby. Much of the beach has been eroded, and spacious sand is not what you’ll find here. That being said, beaches are mainly known for their water, and this one is perfect for your kayak, paddleboard, and swimming needs (here’s what to know about swimming in the ocean). Here are some of the best all-inclusive resorts in Hawaii to check out too.
Seagrass Bay, Laucala Island, Fiji
If you’re headed to Fiji, Seagrass Bay in Laucala Island is a must-see, but there’s only one way to see it. This beach is part of a private island, less than an hour’s flight from Fiji’s main island, Nadi. In order to experience the breathtaking magic of Seagrass Bay, you’ll need to stay at the all-inclusive, truly spectacular COMO Laucala Island. This private island experience is billed as an alternate universe, and it has earned a rare perfect rating on TripAdvisor.
Crater Lake, Oregon, United States
Looking for those spectacular blue hues a little closer to home? You’ll be blown away by Oregon’s own Crater Lake. In the heart of the Cascade Mountains in Southern Oregon, Crater Lake National Park is an incredible traveler’s paradise and great along a national park road trip. But its namesake, Crater Lake, is definitely the crowning jewel. This beautiful lake can often be covered by clouds, so be sure to check out one of the live webcams of Crater Lake before you start hiking out to know what conditions will be like.
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
The oldest national park in Croatia is well known for its series of turquoise lakes split up by vibrant green barriers. It’s truly one of the most stunning views on earth. Reaching these waters requires a bit of a hike, but when do you ever find the most perfect paradise spots directly on the beaten path? While most lovers of these lakes recommend going in summertime, winter visits still offer breathtaking views … just with a bit less foliage. You’ll also spot Croatia in the photos of the world’s most beautiful countries.
Banana Beach, Koh Hey Island, Phuket Thailand
How have we made it this far down the list without a visit to Thailand? The entire country is known for its breathtaking tropical beaches, and Banana Beach on Koh Hey Island is no exception. Perhaps the vibrant green jungle that serves as the background for this beach makes the water look even bluer, but that doesn’t mean the crystal-clear waters aren’t spectacular in their own right. The name comes from the prevalent banana boat rides available here, and the beach is also a great place to go swimming or try snorkeling or sea kayaking. There’s a single restaurant on the beach, but despite the incredible adventuring potential, this beach is generally much less crowded than many of Thailand’s popular tourist spots. Thinking of booking a smaller vacation? These mini vacation ideas won’t break the bank.
Five Flower Lake, Jiuzhaigou National Park, China
Next on our travel bucket list? Five Flower Lake. The valley that this lake calls home is part of a UNESCO heritage site, and we can definitely understand why! The lake is 16 feet deep, but with crystal-clear water, you’ll have no trouble spotting the bottom. It’s considered holy by the locals. A hot spring that feeds the lake means it doesn’t freeze, even in the coldest winter months. While most of the time this lake is a clear, sapphire blue, the color changes, and on various trips to this shore, you may find the water looking emerald green, amber, or even coral. We’ll have to add this one to our list of the most colorful natural wonders on Earth.
Peyto Lake, Alberta, Canada
Travel North to the Canadian Rockies to find this gem of a lake, tucked away in Banff National Park. An easy 3.8-mile round-trip hike will get you to these stunning blue waters near the Icefields Parkway. The best time to visit this lake is in the summer, when glacial rock flour flows into the water, creating its unique turquoise glow.
Honopu Beach Kauai, Hawaii
It’s two for the price of one here! Honopu Beach is actually two beaches split up by a magnificent giant natural rock. The bad news: You cannot drive, hike, or boat to these gorgeous shores. Your only option is a semi-difficult swim. Experts recommend swimming when the tide is low and riptides are less common. If you are a skilled swimmer and make this trek, you will not be disappointed! The views of the water and the peaceful, low-traffic beach are not to be missed if you can make it there. Makes you want to take a warm-water beach vacation, right?
Porto Katsiki, Lefkada, Greece
Porto Katsiki Beach (which was formerly said to be accessible only by goats, hence its Greek translation of “Goat Port”) is located on an island called Lefkada in the Ionian Sea. It can only be reached by taking narrow roads, which are usually congested with traffic, and then walking down a small, winding staircase alongside a cliff. A taxi boat is perhaps the least complex way to reach this secluded paradise. But rest assured, the journey is worthwhile, as it’s one of the most stunning clear water beaches. In fact, it is considered to be one of the ten best beaches in the Mediterranean and one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Devil’s Bay, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
Devil’s Bay can be reached by boat, an easy walk down a path, or a 30-minute hike through the Baths, which requires a great deal of climbing and crawling around granite boulders. Regardless of how you get there, these crystal-clear beaches will make you wonder why you’ve never visited before. The boulders at Devil’s Bay also make the clear water beaches unique, forming arches, grottos, tidal pools, tunnels, and of course, the maze on the way down. They also make for an interesting dive around and down the sides of the partially submerged boulders.
Ipil Beach, El Nido, Palawan Island, Philippines
Ipil Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, is known to be free of tourists. Many travelers find that they are the only ones on the beach during their visit, with the exception of some locals. In addition to one of the most stunning clear beaches, visitors can expect to see monkeys, a plethora of chromatic coral, palm trees, and friendly turtles. The backdrop of the mountains makes for incredible scenery, and the sunset is said to be remarkable.
Fulhadhoo is an island located in the middle of the alluring Indian Ocean. It’s ideal for those who truly want clear beaches where they can see life through a native islander’s eyes. Located two hours away by speedboat from the Maldivian mainland, with no tourist attractions and only one hotel, it has clear water beaches that make for a true tropical getaway. With that in mind, travelers must abide by the natives’ rules, which include no bikinis allowed outside of the west beach and no consuming alcohol. Surrounded by palm trees, coral reefs, colorful fish, and other marine life, you’ll find every reason to keep exploring the Maldives.
Bai Dam Trau, Con Dao Island, Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, Vietnam
Bai Dam Trau is fairly close to an airport, so visitors can expect to see some occasional low-flying planes. Otherwise, the beach is surrounded by parts of a tropical jungle, a forest plentiful with bamboo and pine trees, offering visitors the enchanting feel of being in their own little world. Dam Trau beach can be reached by a rather bumpy and muddy road, which ultimately opens up to an incredible view of the sea, three small beach restaurants, hammocks, fine white sand, and few to no tourists.
Tropic of Cancer Beach, Little Exuma, Bahamas
Tropic of Cancer Beach (also known as Pelican Beach) is the longest of the clear water beaches on Little Exuma, with a span of over a mile. It can be reached after venturing down a long, dirt road. The water is especially transparent, with no obstructions like coral or rocks. With a lack of vendors and tourists (due to its hidden location), this beach is a true oasis. If you plan on visiting, you’ll also want to check out the best Bahamas resorts.
Elephant Beach, Havelock Island, India
Perhaps best known for its water sports, Elephant Beach is definitely a destination for adventure-seekers who want the serenity of clear water beaches. Here are some of the excursions you can try: scuba diving, snorkeling (the vibrant reef starts at just five feet deep), trekking, riding in a seaplane, fishing, taking glass-bottomed boat rides, and even sea walking (where visitors are provided with a helmet to breathe underwater while they explore the seafloor). If you’re planning a trip with your relatives, these are the best family beach vacations to take this year.
Rabbit Beach, Sicily, Italy
Rated the best beach in the world by TripAdvisor in 2013, this island in Italy is located 105 miles away from the mainland. Aside from its beauty and status as one of the most impressive places with clear water, history is engraved in its rocky grottos. It was once inhabited by Arabs, Greeks, and Romans, so scuba-diving in these waters could lead to the discovery of historic remains. History isn’t just located at the bottom of the ocean, though; visitors can spot prehistoric huts ashore and hike through astounding, lush trails. Fun fact: There aren’t actually that many rabbits.
Shipwreck (Navagio) Beach, Zakynthos, Greece
Originally known as Agios Georgios, Shipwreck Beach (also known as Navagio Beach) is quite literally a beach with a shipwreck washed ashore. While the mysterious shipwreck (with many legends surrounding its placement) is what predominantly lures in the crowds, the beach’s clear waters are another draw. The only way to reach Zakynthos’ clear beaches is by sea, but the view from the hiking trails and the tourist platform at the top of the cliffs is what’s really spellbinding.
Hanauma Bay, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii
Rated the number one beach in the United States in 2013, Hanauma Bay, with some of the clearest waters in the United States, should be on your beach bucket list. Created by a volcanic eruption tens of thousands of years ago and located on the island of Oahu, it’s a marine life conservation area. Before first-timers can enter the bay, they must watch a nine-minute video about conserving marine life and preservation. About 3,000 visitors (it used to be 10,000 or more before there was a population control rule put into place) make their way to Honolulu every day to spend time with the exotic marine life, tranquil waves, and glistening white sand—and the reason is clear (just like the water).
Baie Longue, Saint Martin
With no facilities or vendors, this hidden gem (also known as Long Beach) is able to keep the waters clean and clear, just the way we like it. The beach itself flows over the cliffs of La Samanna to La Pointe des Canniers on the French side of Saint Martin, making it the longest of this Caribbean island’s 37 beaches. It’s the perfect spot to cuddle up with your partner or enjoy some quiet time while gazing at the turquoise waves.
Now that you’ve seen the most beautiful clear beaches from around the world, you can stay local and enjoy the best beach in every U.S. state.
Written with a contribution from Melissa Klurman.