These beaches boast unique scenery and untouched wilderness.
When envisioning a faraway island, images of remote beaches framed by swaying palm trees, pearly white sands and crystal blue waters may jump to mind. Though the Best Islands in the World are chock-full of relaxing shorelines, not all are created equal. Some beaches are hidden and quiet, while others are surrounded by resorts and filled with plenty of amenities (and tourists). To help you find the ideal beach retreat, U.S. News pinpointed the must-see shorelines found on the world's best islands. From the golden sands of Maui to the multicolored shores of Santorini, these beaches boast some of the most picturesque scenes the globe has to offer.
Natadola Beach: Fiji
Your Fijian resort will likely boast its own stretch of pristine ivory sand, but if you're willing to venture from your overwater bungalow and explore the archipelago's 333 islands, you'll find stunning beaches at every turn. Natadola Beach on Fiji's largest island – Viti Levu – is often considered Fiji's best beach thanks to its lush surroundings and variety of activities, both in the water and on land (horseback riding is popular here). For more seclusion, hop on a boat to the Yasawa island chain.
Vai Beach: Crete, Greece
Vai Beach, also known as Palm Beach, is one of the most popular sights in Crete – and for good reason. Vai Beach is home to the largest palm grove in Europe, boasting 4,500 palm trees that are more than 2,000 years old. Tourists come to ogle the palm forest and to enjoy its large sandy beach. If you're looking for more room to spread out, take a short hike over a hill at the south side of the beach, where you'll find a less crowded but equally beautiful stretch of sand.
Palancar and Paradise beaches: Cozumel, Mexico
This island off the Yucatán Peninsula is perhaps best known for optimal diving conditions: the area's clear turquoise waters are punctuated by shallow reefs. But Cozumel's downy beaches are just as much of a draw for tourists. Palancar Beach, in particular, is considered one of the island's best shorelines for its ample water sports and nearby amenities. Paradise Beach is equally popular; it even boasts its own pool, should you tire of the sand. But since Cozumel is a popular cruise ship stop, you'll likely have to share the shore with throngs of other vacationers. Arrive at the beach early in the morning to avoid the midday cruise crowds.
Reduit Beach and Marigot Bay: St. Lucia
Whether you simply want to relax on its chalky shores or come face-to-face with the island's underwater creatures, St. Lucia has you covered. If you're looking for a stretch of sand with plenty of amenities, including bars, restaurants and water sports rentals, Reduit Beach is calling your name. Keep in mind Reduit is one of the island's most popular shorelines. For a more romantic atmosphere with fewer crowds, try Marigot Bay, which is lauded by travelers for its stunning scenery and white sand beach.
Plage Caravelle and La Grande-Anse: Guadeloupe
You won't have to go far to find brilliant turquoise waves and blindingly white sand on Guadeloupe. If you're looking for a prime snorkeling spot, head to Plage Caravelle. Its reef-protected waters are typically calm and its long shoreline is perfect for sunbathing. For a taste of the French Rivera in Guadaloupe, make a stop at La Grande-Anse on Basse-Terre. Along with its serene waves, the beach touts stunning mountain scenery. Pack all your own beach amenities, though, as this area doesn't offer any facilities.
(Andia/UIG via Getty Images)
Polihua and Hulopoe beaches: Lanai, Hawaii
Lanai is Hawaii's smallest inhabited island and one of the least visited, meaning you won't have to try hard to find a secluded shoreline. Though the island only offers 18 miles of coastline (compared to nearby Oahu's 112 miles), Lanai still manages to wow travelers thanks to its remote and romantic beaches. Case in point: Polihua Beach on the island's northern coast. Situated about an hour northwest of Lanai City, Polihua offers 2 miles of serene seclusion. Though Polihua's currents are often too dangerous for swimming, the beach is worth the trip for the atmosphere alone. If you're not up for the trek, head to Hulopoe Beach instead.
La Loberia and Tortuga Bay: Galápagos Islands
The beaches on the Galápagos Islands are the perfect place to soak up the warm equatorial sun – if you're an animal. Travelers flock to the islands' various shorelines to catch a glimpse of the fascinating creatures that inhabit the region. La Loberia on San Cristóbal Island is famous for its swarms of sea lions, while Tortuga Bay on Santa Cruz Island is home to marine iguanas and Sally Lightfoot crabs, not to mention black turtles. For unforgettable wildlife viewing, visit Tortuga Bay between April and May, when turtle hatchlings make their way to the sea.
Palazzo a Mare: Capri, Italy
If you're looking for long, sandy shores, you've come to the wrong place. Beaches on Capri are tiny, sharing space with the island's beautiful and imposing cliffs. Plus, most of the island's small collection of beaches are home to private beach clubs. However, there are a handful of free swimming holes. If you're looking for a real stretch of sand, head to Palazzo a Mare, near the main port of Marina Grande. If you want to feel like a local, make the trek to the Punta Carena Lighthouse at the western edge of the island. There are only rocky ledges here, but it's the only spot on the island to receive sunlight until dusk.
Coral Bay and Konnos Beach: Cyprus
Coral Bay is a hit with families thanks to its calm waters and dramatic scenery – the beach is nestled within a cove and surrounded by picturesque cliffs. Plus, it's fully equipped with sun loungers, umbrellas and plenty of water sports rentals. Meanwhile, those with a more adventurous side will want to make the trek to Konnos Beach. Hikers can weave their way through the verdant Cape Greco National Forest Park before stretching out on the honey-colored sands of Konnos. Thanks to its sheltered position along the bay, Konnos' waters are consistently calm and clear.
(PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Matira Beach: Bora Bora, French Polynesia
You won't have to go far for to find a beach in Bora Bora since many of the island's top hotels are situated on their own private shorelines. But if you want to explore more of the island, make a trip to Matira Beach, just south of Vaitape. One of the only beaches in Bora Bora that's open to the public, Matira is popular with visitors for its aquamarine waters, soft sands and ample shops, eateries and resorts. Though a stop at Matira Beach is included in many tour itineraries, travelers suggest you plan a visit on your own to soak up the relaxing atmosphere for as long as you wish.
Glyfada and Myrtiotissa beaches: Corfu, Greece
Many Corfu visitors flock to Glyfada Beach for its golden sands and views of the surrounding villa-studded hills. If you're looking for a quieter beach and don't mind hiking to get there, you'll want to add Myrtiotissa to your itinerary. Myrtiotissa sits on the southeastern side of the cape of Agios Georgios, between Ermones and Glyfada. Considered one of the island's most beautiful beaches, Myrtiotissa is home to a stunning shoreline and an active seabed that's perfect for snorkelers and scuba divers.
Smuggler's Cove and The Baths: British Virgin Islands
Home to some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, the British Virgin Islands are what vacation dreams are made of. Smuggler's Cove on Tortola's western coast is the ideal hideaway if you're looking for a relaxing atmosphere with excellent snorkeling conditions. Looking for a bit more adventure? The colorful coves and giant granite boulders of The Baths in Virgin Gorda are an undeniable must-see. But as one of the archipelago's most popular attractions, it can get very crowded. For a little more elbow room, plan to visit later in the afternoon after cruise ship passengers have departed.
La Plage de Maui and Plage du Taharuu: Tahiti, French Polynesia
La Plage de Maui is the Tahitian beach you've been dreaming of – and the one featured in many guidebooks and postcards. Its soft, pearly white sands and clear warm waters are a hit among travelers who appreciate the area's calm, shallow lagoon. To sidestep the crowds – and snap some Instagram-worthy shots – consider visiting one of Tahiti's black-sand beaches, such as Plage du Taharuu. The ebony sand is composed of volcanic rock, making for a striking contrast between the frothy white waves. What's more, it's home to an on-site snack bar and hospitable swimming conditions, making it an ideal stop for families.
Laem Singh Beach and Patong: Phuket, Thailand
Beaches in Phuket are characterized by soft, alabaster sands, towering palms and lush mountain scenery. Though many of the island's shorelines are small – most span less than a mile – they prove that good things come in small packages. Case in point: Laem Singh Beach, which measures just 500 feet long. You'll have to traverse a hill to reach it, but you'll be rewarded with a small cove between two beaches that creates an optimal snorkeling environment. For a livelier atmosphere (and more room to spread out), head to Patong. This beach may be more popular for the town behind it, which is home to the island's rollicking nightlife scene.
Punaluu and Onekahakaha Beach: The Big Island, Hawaii
Hawaii's Big Island is almost twice as big as all of the other Hawaiian islands combined, so it should come as no surprise that it offers some of the most varied coastline. You probably won't want to take a dip, but you can't pass up the chance to see the black sands at Punaluu, best known for its inky shoreline and the Hawaiian green sea turtles that call it home. If you have kids in tow, you'll also want to plan a visit to Onekahakaha Beach, which is considered one of the safest swimming spots along Hilo's coast thanks its many tide pools and inlets.
Kalapaki and Anini beaches: Kauai, Hawaii
After you've hiked your way through Waimea Canyon and Koke'e State Park, rest those weary muscles at one of Kauai's stunning beaches. For calm waters ideal for swimming, head to Kalapaki Beach on the island's east side. Since it's sheltered by points and breakwaters at Nawiliwili Bay, Kalapaki is also popular with local surfers. Looking for a more secluded spot? Head north to Anini Beach, a shoreline protected by a large coral reef that's best known as a snorkeling and windsurfing haven.
Jimbaran Beach and Padang Padang: Bali, Indonesia
Whether you're looking for a quiet stretch of sand backed by a quaint fishing village or a resort-filled shoreline packed with amenities, you'll find it in Bali. Travelers love Jimbaran Beach because of its hospitable swimming conditions and lively restaurants and bars. If you're searching for a more secluded shoreline (and don't mind putting in the effort to get there), you may enjoy Padang Padang, a popular surf spot featured in the film "Eat Pray Love."
Honokalani and Kaihalulu beaches: Maui, Hawaii
Maui offers 30 miles of beaches, meaning you won't have to search far to stake your spot in the sand. Whether you prefer a resort-backed shoreline with ample amenities or something more secluded, Hawaii's second-largest island has you covered. If you're looking for something a little out of the ordinary, stop at Honokalani Beach – best known for its black shoreline – or Kaihalulu Beach, which offers an equally unique photo op thanks to its crimson-tinged sands.
Waikiki and Sunset beaches: Honolulu
From the honey-colored sands of Waikiki to the monstrous waves of the North Shore, Honolulu has no shortage of beaches for you to discover. It may be overcrowded with fellow tourists (it sees more than 4 million annual visitors), but Waikiki is a must. Not only does it boast unbeatable views of Diamond Head, but Waikiki also promises a long-lasting wave break, which makes it the perfect place to learn how to surf. Speaking of surfing, to watch the pros hang 10 on massive swells, head to Sunset Beach, which produces some of the longest rideable waves in the world.
Kamari and Red beaches: Santorini, Greece
Aside from its ancient archaeological sites, Santorini's greatest asset may be its colorful beaches. Two of the island's most popular shorelines – Kamari Beach and Red Beach – are must-sees thanks to their kaleidoscopic sands. Head to Kamari Beach for a charcoal-colored shoreline and views of the Mesa Vouno hill, or the aptly named Red Beach if you're on the hunt for an Instagram-worthy photo op. Keep in mind that while the sands of Red Beach are visually striking, they may be too rocky and rough for a day of relaxing. What's more, they can be difficult to reach.