Best Beaches in the World

What makes a great beach all depends on the traveler. Some like wide, open stretches of sand with ample things to do and throngs of people to watch, while others prefer deserted shorelines with calm waters. U.S. News took this and 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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    Fiji

    #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 the 20 islands that make up the Mamanuca Islands. Popular options include Qalito Island and Vomo Island.

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    Maldives

    #2 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, with each beach more beautiful than the last. You'll likely stick to the island your resort is on, 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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    Bora Bora

    #3 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 with 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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    Tahiti

    #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 118 islands that make up Tahiti are known for 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 popular 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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    Maui

    #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. Southern 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 Hookipa Beach Park and Kanaha Beach Park.

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    U.S. Virgin Islands

    #6 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 Solomon 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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    Bahamas

    #7 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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    Kauai

    #8 in Best Beaches in the World

    Adventurous travelers flock here in droves for the many heart-pumping excursions the island has to offer. However, Kauai's beaches should not be overlooked. Take a trip to Polihale State Park to hit 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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    Railay Beach

    #9 in Best Beaches in the World

    Railay Beach (also known as Rai Leh) is located in Thailand's Krabi province and abuts the Andaman Sea. 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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    Phuket

    #10 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 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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    Bali

    #11 in Best Beaches in the World

    Bali's beaches are by far this Indonesian island's most magnificent attribute. Crystal-clear waters, white sands and legendary sunsets tend to be the norm here. What's more, direct beach access is common at the numerous five-star resorts situated throughout the island. If your chosen property does not offer its own stretch of sand, head to Kuta Beach to surf and party or to Sanur Beach for a laid-back atmosphere and calm water suitable for kids.

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    Amalfi Coast

    #12 in Best Beaches in the World

    What the Amalfi Coast's beaches lack in size they make up for in spellbinding beauty. Tucked between sky-high cliffs, the coast's shorelines create a picture-perfect setting unmatched by other Italian beaches. Visit Marina Grande Beach in Positano to mix and mingle with locals, tourists and celebrities, or spend a day at Atrani Beach in Atrani for a quieter scene. No Amalfi Coast vacation would be complete without exploring the Fiordo di Furore, a narrow fjord with a small beach bordered by jaw-dropping cliffs.

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    Crete

    #13 in Best Beaches in the World

    Sometimes overlooked by travelers in favor of other Greek islands, Crete is home to several incredible beaches. Beachgoers will find pink-hued sands that pop against the bright blue sea at Elafonisi beach. And at Vai Beach, vacationers can admire the beach's surrounding palm trees and cliffs while they swim and sunbathe. For those in search of seclusion and clear waters, there are Achlia Beach and Damnoni Beach on the island's southern coast.

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    Sicily

    #14 in Best Beaches in the World

    As the Mediterranean's largest island, you can expect to find an array of picturesque beaches here. Bright blue waters flank charming Italian towns and craggy coastal cliffs. San Vito lo Capo's breathtaking stretch of sand features a wide shore, limestone cliffs and proximity to top-notch eateries. Meanwhile, Mondello Beach in Palermo (Sicily's capital city) offers phenomenal sunset vistas. To combine a beach day with a hike, visit Zingaro Nature Reserve and trek the coastal path.

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    Cinque Terre

    #15 in Best Beaches in the World

    Cinque Terre's beaches are mostly small and pebbly, but the scenery is otherworldly. The region is home to several beaches tucked between oceanfront cliffs and colorful seaside villages. Monterosso al Mare is where you'll find Cinque Terre's largest beaches. Still, these sandy spots can quickly feel crowded – especially during the warmer months – so consider visiting a more secluded shoreline like Guvano near Corniglia. Keep in mind, though, that Guvano is a clothing-optional beach.

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