12 Most-Visited Beaches in the World
Ready for paradise? Plan a visit to one of these destinations—there's a reason they're the most popular beaches on the globe.
Finding the most popular beaches
Thanks to Instagram and Travel Supermarket, a UK-based price comparison site, it’s easy to track some of the planet’s most popular. After cross-referencing TripAdvisor ratings with a thorough review of #beach hashtags on Instagram, the following 12 most-visited beaches emerged supreme. Take a peek at the dozen most popular stretches of shoreline in the world and start adding favorites to your beach bucket list. Here’s a shock: When people voted for the best beach in the United States, this place beat out Hawaii.
Whitehaven Beach, Australia
Accessible only by boat, helicopter, or seaplane, this four-mile stretch of sand on Whitsunday Island is the most Instagrammed beach in the world. Quartz-like and bright white, the sand here doesn’t retain heat the way most other types of sand do, making it easy to walk barefoot comfortably all day. Camp facilities are provided for overnight visitors, but plan ahead for reservations as this slice of paradise is in high demand. Fun fact: Some say the sand here was used to make the glass used in the Hubble Space Telescope in the 1970s, but NASA has never verified this claim. If you can’t travel to Australia, check out these amazing beaches that are better in the winter.
Lanikai Beach, Hawaii
There are so many Hawaiian beaches you need to visit in your lifetime. Lanikai’s name means “heavenly sea,” and one look at this beach on the eastern shores of Oahu and it’s clear its moniker is a perfect fit. A bit tricky to find, the access point is tucked between residential homes in a neighborhood called Lanikai in Kailua. Once there, the powdery white sand and turquoise waters are some of Hawaii’s best. Perfectly situated for sunrise watching, erosion has taken Lanikai Beach from one mile long to about half that, but its beauty is still unparalleled, with picture-perfect views of two tropical islands just offshore. The calm water is perfect for kayaking, but snorkelers love it for its reefs and the stillness of the water. The closest bathrooms, picnic tables, and outdoor showers are nearby at Kailua Beach Park. If you’re looking for affordable lodging on your beach vacation, check out these 12 beachfront hotels you can actually afford.
Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda
This crescent-shaped stretch of rosy pink sandy beach—a blend of crushed coral, coral, and calcium carbonate—is Bermuda’s most famous, and with good reason. The dramatic rock formations surrounding the crystal-clear water are home to hidden caves and coves perfect for adventure seekers. Climb to the top of the tallest rock formation to catch a stellar sunrise. For little ones, the enclosed part of the bay known as Port Royal Cove keeps the big waves out. Beach chairs, umbrellas, paddle boards, and more are available for rent.
Cayo Coco Beach, Cuba
This island just north of mainland Cuba boasts ultra fine white sand and shallow, aquamarine water where wild flamingos can often be seen sunbathing. Named after the white ibis known in Cuba as coco (coconut) birds, Cayo Coco Beach was the setting for several scenes in Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream and The Old Man and the Sea. The cays here are protected by a stunning coral reef that ensures calm beaches and makes this a top spot for diving and snorkeling. Many all-inclusive resorts on the island provide a bevy of watersports.
Bávaro Beach, Dominican Republic
Where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean on the Dominican Republic’s east coast, the water is always warm, and the soft white sand goes on for miles. While some parts of this beach are lined with resorts and the balmy breezes are just strong enough for windsurfing, other stretches are calm and clear, with nary a crowd or wave in sight. Wherever you go, tropical palm trees shoot out of the sand, providing cooling shade from the hot Caribbean sun. Local artisans sell handmade arts and crafts at a central point known as Plaza Bávaro, while vendors near the resort area walk up and down the beach offering beachgoers everything from cool drinks to shiny trinkets. Get some more ideas on perfect places to visit with this list of the 10 beaches with the clearest water in the world.
Boulders Beach, South Africa
One of Cape Town’s most visited beaches, Boulders Beach is the only place in the world where you can get up close to African penguins. The sheltered beach is made up of inlets nestled between granite boulders, earning the beach its name. Three wheelchair-friendly boardwalks ensure anyone can catch a glimpse of these charming tuxedoed birds as they waddle about. Kids especially love climbing over the boulders, exploring the rock pools, and swimming in the clear False Bay water. Now an endangered species, the African penguins here are protected in part by a conservation fee you contribute of 65 Rand (about $4.50).
Bournemouth Beach, United Kingdom
Who says you can’t find a gorgeous stretch of coastline in England? Seven miles of golden sands across four separate beach areas comprise Bournemouth Beach, hugging a coastal resort town that bears the same name. Nestled beneath a dramatic cliff, the bay enjoys some of the warmest sea temperatures in the UK and stunning views of the Isle of Wight and the Isle of Purbeck. Visit in August and catch the Bournemouth Air Festival, a free, four-day event featuring amazing flight displays and live entertainment. Long piers jet out over the ocean, making it easy to spend a day fishing or watching the surfers tackle the waves farther offshore.
Pink Sands Beach, Bahamas
One of the most unusual beaches in the world, the three-mile Pink Sands Beach is also one of the only beaches in the Bahamas where you can go horseback riding. On the eastern shores of Harbour Island, the light pink sand that serves as this beach’s claim to fame is really thousands of broken coral pieces, shells, and calcium carbonate materials left behind by foraminifera, tiny marine creatures with red and pink shells that live in the coral reefs surrounding the beach. With calm, translucent water, Pink Sands Beach is also popular for swimming and snorkeling. The island itself is home to several charming, luxury hideaways perfect for a romantic getaway. If you love pink sand, check out this guide to the most gorgeous pink sand beaches in the world.
Ao Nang Beach, Thailand
Smack in the center of a popular resort town, Ao Nang Beach is known as one of the best places in the world to watch the sunset over the horizon. The low tide creates a ripple effect in the water as the waves recede from the shore, leaving behind a glistening layer of soft sand. Ao Nang is also a popular departure point for unique long-tail boats that whisk visitors to nearby islands. Hotels, shops, and restaurants line the road that hugs the shoreline, making it easy to spend a night—or a week—taking in the beach views.
Playa Paraiso Beach, Mexico
Only about a mile south of the Tulum ruins, this beach offers a perfect way to start or end a day exploring the ruins. Even with an average of 290 days of sunshine and a coral reef just offshore that’s perfect for divers and snorkelers, it’s the remote feel of this picture-perfect beach that’s the key draw here. Towering palm trees with curved necks and rustic thatched-roof huts to shade beachgoers from the sun are pretty much all that dots the stunning white sandy beach, yet it’s the aqua waters that are the real star of the show. Even if you can’t make it to this beach, check out this list of the 15 best beaches to visit this year.
Dreamland Beach, Indonesia
The limestone cliffs that cradle the rugged coastline of the southern Bukit Peninsula near Bali give this stunning beach a secluded feel. The beach itself boasts strong currents offshore and significant breaks that lure surfers from all over the world. But who wants to deal with either when you can just lie on the sand, take in the incredible view, and indulge in an inexpensive massage for less than $7?
Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos
This idyllic, family friendly, 13-mile stretch of Caribbean coastline boasts warm, shallow water that stretches into the sea, allowing beachgoers to walk out quite far while remaining above water, hence those picture-perfect Instagram shots. Lavish resorts can be found up and down Grace Bay Beach, each one offering everything from parasailing to catamaran cruises and everything in between. But with a beach this gorgeous, the best thing to do is dig your toes int he sand under the shade of a casuarina tree and practice the art of relaxation. Avid divers love the mammoth undersea Wall off Grand Turk. Also, Turks and Caicos happens to be home to one of the best all inclusive vacation resorts in the world.