Beaches are a vacation cliche for a reason. But they have personalities as different as the travelers who seek them out. Some are sunny stretches of surfside sand just begging visitors to lounge lazily for hours. Others are shell-scattered gems, ideal for collectors. And some are rugged beauties dotted with impressive rock formations and hiking trails.
Travel website TripAdvisor’s latest ranking of the best beaches in the world includes a varied selection of vacation destinations. The site bases its list on reviews and ratings collected over 12 months. Here are the top spots, beginning with No. 10.
10. Kā’anapali Beach
This beach’s location: Maui, Hawaii
You knew scenic, sunny Hawaii would stake out a spot on this list. Three-mile Kāʻanapali Beach on the island of Maui boasts sparkling white sands and crystal clear water and once served as a retreat for Maui royalty. Tired of lounging in the sand? Whale-watching, zip-lining and golf are popular, and a sunset cliff-diving ceremony recreates an 18th-century feat by Maui’s revered King Kahekili.
9. Varadero Beach
This beach’s location: Cuba (Caribbean Sea)
For Americans, travel to Cuba for tourism reasons remains prohibited, though there are other legal ways to visit, including family visits and group educational travel. Should you make it to this island country, don’t miss Varadero Beach, the country’s most popular beach destination, just a two-hour drive east of central Havana. The 13-mile stretch of white sand boasts 55 hotels, and there’s even a restaurant reportedly built back in the 1920s for gangster Al Capone.
8. Spiaggia dei Conigli
This beach’s location: Sicily, Italy
“Spiaggia dei Conigli” translates as “Rabbit Beach,” though it’s turtles, not rabbits, that attract visitors. (The “rabbit” name may be a mistranslation.) The endangered loggerhead sea turtle lays its eggs on this Sicilian beach, so to protect them, the beach is only open in shifts during part of the year, and visitors are limited. But it’s also spectacular on its own, with pristine, crystal waters and sparkling white sand.
7. Radhanagar Beach
This beach’s location: Havelock Island, India
India may not be the first country that leaps to mind when you think of the world’s best beaches. But Radhanagar Beach, located on Havelock Island — officially known as Swaraj Dweep and one of the largest islands in Ritchie’s Archipelago, a cluster of islands in the Bay of Bengal — is world-renowned. In addition to the turquoise waters and pristine white sand, during certain times of the year, the sea glows blue-green with bioluminescent phytoplankton.
6. Praia da Falésia
This beach’s location: Olhos de Agua, Portugal
“Praia da Falésia” means “Cliff Beach” in Portuguese, and the reason for that is obvious. This nearly four-mile Portuguese beach is flanked by a line of spectacular red sand cliffs. Bring your camera for colorful selfies. Between the red, copper and gold cliffs, crystal-blue water, golden-sand beach, and green pine groves topping the cliffs, this beach is like a rainbow.
5. Grace Bay Beach
This beach’s location: Turks and Caicos (Caribbean Sea)
The Turks and Caicos, a breathtaking group of 40 low-lying coral islands and cays southwest of the Bahamas, are an easy escape from New York or Miami. Grace Bay Beach is part of the protected area of Princess Alexandra National Park, which helps preserve its pristine, white-sand beaches and turquoise waters. Travel + Leisure praises Grace Bay Beach for being “low-key,” noting that the sand stays cool, the water is warm and the beach “remains unfettered by mega-resorts.”
4. Reynisfjara Beach
This beach’s location: Vik, Iceland
Iceland? A beach destination? Yes, indeed. Reynisfjara Beach isn’t tropical, but it regularly lands on best-beach lists, thanks in part to its sea caves, striking rock formations, and breathtaking inky-black sand, formed via volcanic eruptions. Be careful here, however – social media is full of videos showing tourists who were almost pulled out to sea by the surprising “sneaker waves,” which can come out of nowhere. Follow posted warning signs, and enjoy this unusual beach at a safe distance from the water.
3. Cable Beach
This beach’s location: Broome, Australia
Cable Beach was named because its surrounding suburb, Broome, was the historic site of the telegraph cable that connected Australia’s northwest to the rest of the world back in 1889. That’s nice and all, but tourists go for the sugar-white sands, clear waters, water sports, dunes, and trails. Oh, and one iconic activity you won’t find at most beaches. Cable Beach features camel trains, where tourists ride on saddled camels that walk in a line along the beach, making for memorable vacation photos. Happy Hump Day.
2. Eagle Beach
This beach’s location: Aruba (Caribbean Sea)
Beaches aren’t usually famous for their trees, but Eagle Beach on the island of Aruba is an exception. It’s framed by fofoti trees, which grow to point southeasterly due to the island’s tradewinds. A famous fofoti tree sits right on the beach and is a selfie magnet for tourists. If trees aren’t your thing, choose Eagle Beach for its calm, turquoise. waters and sparkling white sands or to watch sea turtle hatchlings scramble their way to the sea at sunset.
1. Baía do Sancho
This beach’s location: Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
Not every traveler can make it to Brazil’s beautiful and unspoiled Baía do Sancho. You can only reach it by boat or a 230-foot cliff descent via two ladders. But if you’re willing to take that on, the top beach on Trip Advisor’s list will reward you with breathtaking views, sandy shores, crystal clear waters with plenty of dazzling sea life to watch and coral reefs for snorkeling.