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Best Beaches in the World

What makes a great beach all depends on the traveler. Some prefer wide stretches of sand with ample activities and throngs of people to watch, while others desire deserted shorelines with calm waters. U.S. News took this and other factors – such as unique scenery, beach quality and overall accessibility – into consideration to determine the best beaches in the world. Want to put in your 2 cents? Cast your vote below to help determine next year's ranking. (Note: Some of the below destinations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Check with the CDC and the U.S. Department of State before traveling.)

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    #1 in Best Beaches in the World

    Boasting 333 islands, resplendent resorts, sparkling waters and endless stretches of pristine sand, Fiji is the perfect spot for paradise-seeking beachgoers. Travelers who want to snorkel while on vacation should set their sights on Taveuni's diverse coral reefs. Meanwhile, those pining for the tropical beaches featured in the movie "Cast Away" and multiple seasons of the TV show "Survivor" can catch a ferry from Port Denarau and head directly to one of the 20 islands that make up the Mamanuca Islands. Popular options include Qalito Island and Vomo Island.

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    #2 in Best Beaches in the World

    This French Polynesian island is small but mighty. Measuring only 6 miles long and less than 3 miles wide, every inch of Bora Bora is packed with stunning beaches, green jungles and ritzy resorts featuring overwater bungalows. Matira Beach is ideal for sunbathing and strolling along sandy shores, while the beach at the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora is where you should head for Mount Otemanu views and calm water. Snorkeling and shark-feeding excursions are also available if you enjoy adventurous pursuits.

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    #3 in Best Beaches in the World

    The Maldives is unlike any beach destination you'll experience. This tropical paradise features 22 ring-shaped atolls made up of approximately 1,200 islands where each beach is more beautiful than the last. You'll likely stick to the island where your resort is, but you can expect pearlescent sands, towering palm trees, incredibly blue waters and surreal sunsets at all of the beaches in the Maldives. Most public beaches require covering up, so if you do stray from your resort's sands, consider checking out the bikini-friendly beaches on Rasdhoo and Maafushi.

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    #4 in Best Beaches in the World

    Tahiti should be high on your list if you like your beaches paired with gourmet French cuisine. The largest of French Polynesian's islands is known for offering top-notch fare, verdant jungles, lavish resorts and sandy shores. The smaller section of Tahiti (known as Tahiti Iti) is more secluded than the larger Tahiti Nui, but both are worth seeing. Tahiti Iti's famous La Plage de Maui is highly regarded for a reason (think: sparkling sand and crystal-clear water), but the popularity comes with crowds. Check out Papenoo Beach on Tahiti Nui for excellent surfing conditions and more breathing room.

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    #5 in Best Beaches in the World

    If you're looking for a taste of Hawaii's beautiful beaches without the crowds on Oahu, retreat to Maui. The island boasts impressive beaches both big and small, adult- and family-friendly, as well as the black sand shores at Waianapanapa State Park. South Maui is especially popular with families, as it is home to Wailea Beach, which is known for its mostly calm water, bustling resorts and highly regarded restaurants. Meanwhile, the North Shore attracts active travelers keen on taking advantage of the superb windsurfing conditions at Ho'okipa Beach Park and Kanaha Beach Park.

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    Whitsunday Islands

    #6 in Best Beaches in the World

    Located off the northeastern coast of Australia, the Whitsunday Islands feel like an entirely different world. The archipelago sits adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef and offers an incredibly unique, albeit fragile, ecosystem. Some of the best beaches on this collection of 74 islands include Betty's Beach, Whitehaven Beach and Chalkies Beach, but there are plenty of stunning spots to choose from. When you're not sunbathing on pearl-white sand or snorkeling through turquoise water, unwind at one of the bungalows or luxury ecoresorts situated on Hamilton Island or Long Island.

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    Mauritius

    #7 in Best Beaches in the World

    This scenic African island, which sits east of Madagascar, offers a multitude of beaches to worth prioritizing. Visitors say the island's west coast is where you'll find the best strips of shoreline, including Flic en Flac and Le Morne, which feature beautiful white sand and superb vantage points for sunsets. Those who enjoy beaches near amenities will prefer north coast shores like Grand Baie, while those seeking a more remote beach experience will enjoy visiting east and south coast beaches like Île aux Cerfs and Blue Bay.

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    #8 in Best Beaches in the World

    St. Lucia's beaches may be smaller than others on this list, but they're no less beautiful. Visitors won't find many lengthy stretches of sand here, but they'll have their pick of charming coves and private shorelines backed by lush mountains. Marigot Bay is a solid option for watching boats and yachts, while Reduit Beach attracts families keen on snorkeling or splashing in the gentle waves. Adventurous travelers who don't mind a hike should plan a visit to Grande Anse, a more secluded beach that's frequented by nesting leatherback sea turtles.

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    #9 in Best Beaches in the World

    Whether you're visiting Cancun, Mexico, for a family trip, spring break or a romantic getaway, you'll discover a selection of stunning beaches. While you could spend the bulk of your vacation lounging at a beachfront resort's stretch of sand, it's worth venturing off-site to other beaches in the area. Visitors say Playa Maroma is a must-see option thanks to its crystal-clear water and prime snorkeling conditions. Many also rave about Playa Delfines, which provides countless opportunities to catch a glimpse of frolicking dolphins. For a quiet escape from the Cancun crowds, head to the beaches on nearby Isla Mujeres.

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    Railay Beach

    #10 in Best Beaches in the World

    Railay Beach (also known as Rai Leh) abuts the Andaman Sea from its location in Thailand's Krabi province. The region is composed of four main beaches and is home to pillowy sand, crystal-clear water, staggering yet climbable cliffs (for the experienced climber) and lush jungles. For a truly spectacular beach experience, head to Phra Nang Beach, where you'll find caves, islands and coral reefs to explore. Another must-visit Railay Beach shoreline is beautiful Railay West, which sits within walking distance of a variety of shops, restaurants, bars and resorts.

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    #11 in Best Beaches in the World

    A trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands appeals to all types of travelers, as St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix cater to different categories of beachgoers. Beach lovers who want to get away from the crowds should head straight to St. John, where the quieter sands of Honeymoon and Salomon beaches appeal to privacy-seeking couples. St. Thomas' photogenic Magens Bay is perfect for photo-ops (though other tourists might get in your shot), and St. Croix's Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge is ideal for vacationers wanting to share the sand and surf with leatherback sea turtles.

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    #12 in Best Beaches in the World

    Adventurous travelers flock here in droves for the many heart-pumping excursions the Hawaiian island has to offer. However, Kauai's beaches should not be overlooked. Take a trip to Polihale State Park to check out secluded shorelines that overlook the island's jaw-dropping Napali Coast cliffs. Or, relax on an easily accessible stretch of sand like Poipu Beach Park. Just keep in mind that swimming here can be challenging because of the rough waters, so pay attention to the lifeguards and posted signs.

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    #13 in Best Beaches in the World

    With countless beaches to choose from on 700 islands, it's easy for you to find your perfect spot in the Bahamas. From massive resorts like Atlantis, Paradise Island to privately owned islands, the variety of beaches here run the gamut. Pink Sand Beach on Harbour Island will wow you with its rosy hue, while The Exumas will delight you with their wild swimming pigs. If you're after underwater caves, diving excursions and a stretch of sand featured in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films, look no further than Gold Rock Beach in Lucayan National Park on Grand Bahama Island.

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    #14 in Best Beaches in the World

    People flock to Belize for access to its pristine Placencia Peninsula. Many think this area looks like an island, but the nearly 20-mile stretch of shoreline is actually part of the mainland and is easily accessible by car. The water is typically calm, making it a family-friendly beach spot. The peninsula is also home to three villages, giving beachgoers easy access to plenty of shops and restaurants when they need a break from the sand. For additional beaches, head to one of the islands off the coast of Belize. Noteworthy options include scenic Ambergris Caye and tiny Goff's Caye.

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    #15 in Best Beaches in the World

    Trust us, you're going to want to go the extra miles for a vacation on Phuket's captivating beaches. That's because this Thai island is home to multiple natural wonders, such as Patong, Karon and Kamala beaches. These stunning shorelines lead to striking teal water, which you can explore on a traditional longtail boat. Nai Harn Beach (Phuket's southernmost beach) is another popular spot among tourists and locals because of its pristine sand and clear water.

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