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U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

Best Beaches in the World

U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

What makes a great beach all depends on the traveler. Some prefer wide, open beaches with throngs of things to do and 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 world's best beaches. Want to put in your two cents? Cast your vote below for next year's ranking.

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#1 Hawaii - The Big Island

#1 in Best Beaches in the World

The Big Island's beaches stand out for their connection to the renowned Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. The unique black sands of Punalu'u Beach are a direct result of volcanic activity, as are the green sands of Papakolea Beach. If you don't care what color the sand is, head to local favorite Hapuna Beach State Park or the tourist-friendly Kaunaoa. Read More »

Hawaii - The Big Island View 18 photos
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#2 Phuket

#2 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 beautiful shorelines lead to striking teal water, which you can explore on a long-tail boat. Read More »

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#3 Maui

#3 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. Read More »

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#4 Kauai

#4 in Best Beaches in the World

Adventure travelers flock here in droves for the many heart-pumping excursions the island has to offer. And its beaches are no less action-packed. Take a trip to the infamous Kalalau Trail to hit secluded shorelines. Or relax on an easily accessible shore like Po'ipu Beach. Just keep in mind swimming here can be challenging (because of the rough waters), so mind the lifeguards. Read More »

Napali Coast View 38 photos
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#5 Costa Rica

#5 in Best Beaches in the World

This Central American country's vibrant flora provides a stunning backdrop to its plentiful shorelines. Beaches here are often backed by forests or flanked by lush mountain peaks. Travelers say that the 80-mile Nicoya Peninsula (home to the popular Nosara Beach), Guanacaste, dubbed as the country's "Gold Coast," and Manuel Antonio Beach are among the best places for sunbathing and swimming. Read More »

Every Night in Costa Rica View 45 photos
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#6 Honolulu - Oahu

#6 in Best Beaches in the World

The North Shore is considered one of the best places to surf in the United States, Waikiki Beach is one of the most-visited beaches in America (7.5 million visitors per year) and Waimea Bay served as inspiration for The Beach Boys and Jimmy Buffet. And while these beaches can get crowded, the scenery here – golden sands, swaying palm trees and aquamarine waters – is unmatched. Read More »

Wakiki Beach View 46 photos
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#7 Santorini

#7 in Best Beaches in the World

The renowned white and pastel-colored homes that pervade Oia tend to distract from the fact that this Grecian island is home to some pretty unique beaches. Venture down the island's famous cliffs and you'll find red sand at Red Beach, black sand at Kamari Beach and turquoise waters at Amoudi Bay. Read More »

Santorini Churches View 23 photos
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#8 Crete

#8 in Best Beaches in the World

Sometimes overlooked by travelers in favor of other Greek islands, Crete is home to several incredible beaches. Travelers will find pink-hued sands that pop against the bright blue sea at Elafonisi Beach. And Vai Beach is famous for the thousands of palm grove trees that back the white sand. If you're aiming for seclusion, head to Achlia Beach or Dammoni Beach on the island's southern coast. Read More »

Sitia Promenade View 17 photos
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#9 Nice

#9 in Best Beaches in the World

The beaches in Nice were made for lounging and living up the luxurious south of France lifestyle. Beau Rivage and Opera Plage are both popular and easily accessible beaches, with sunbed rentals and plenty of nearby restaurants. No matter which beach you settle on, you'll be treated to beautiful Mediterranean Sea views. Keep in mind though, the majority of Nice's beaches are pebbly. Read More »

Place Masséna Primary View 39 photos
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#10 Puerto Rico

#10 in Best Beaches in the World

Known as one of the Caribbean's most affordable destinations, Puerto Rico's beaches don't disappoint. Palm tree-lined beaches with soft sands framed by rich blue waters are abundant on the island. Visitors have miles of shore to explore, including big beaches like Carolina and Condado, and island sands on Vieques and Culebra. Read More »

Puerto Rico Skyline View 13 photos
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#11 Sicily

#11 in Best Beaches in the World

As the Mediterranean's biggest island, you can expect loads of picturesque beaches. Bright blue waters flank charming Italian towns and craggy coastal cliffs. You won't find any waves here and there's plenty of space to stretch your legs, so Sicily's no-fuss shorelines are perfect for relaxation seekers. Read More »

Sicily View 16 photos
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#12 Bali

#12 in Best Beaches in the World

Bali's beaches are by far this island's most magnificent attribute. Crystal clear blue 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. Read More »

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan at Sunrise View 38 photos
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#13 Cinque Terre

#13 in Best Beaches in the World

Cinque Terre's beaches are small and rocky, but the scenery is otherworldly. The region is home to several beaches tucked between oceanfront cliffs and colorful seaside villages. The biggest beach, Monterosso Al Mare, sees a lot of traffic but for ultimate seclusion, visit Corniglia. Read More »

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#14 Amalfi Coast

#14 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 in Positano, but save time for popular secluded spots such as the Furore Fiordo. Read More »

Amalfi Coast View 20 photos
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#15 Maldives

#15 in Best Beaches in the World

The Maldives is unlike any beach vacation you'll experience. This tropical destination is made up of several ring-shaped atolls and hundreds of 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 Maldives beaches. Read More »

Prime Real Estate View 29 photos
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