Wish-list beaches in paradise. Photo / Getty Images
In New Zealand, we’re spoilt for choice of scenic beaches — from the crushed pink-shell beaches of Northland to the pōhutukawa-fringed shores of the Coromandel, to the sweeping black-sand vistas of the West Coast. And yet, we can’t resist the allure of dreaming of white sand, turquoise waters, and sea breezes further from our own shores.
Here are nine beaches around the world worth placing on your wish list.
White Beach, the Philippines
Famous for its snorkelling and diving, the Philippines comprises more than 7600 islands. Translation? There’s a heck of a lot of beaches to choose from here. The fan favourites, though, are the beaches found on Boracay Island. Although it’s only 11sq km in size, Boracay has 17 beaches and coves, including the stunning White Beach, so named for its pristine sand. Its popularity means there’s plenty of accommodation to choose from on the resort island, from budget to mid-range, to truly luxurious.
Matira Beach, Bora Bora, French Polynesia
If you asked AI to paint a picture of “tropical paradise honeymoon destination” it would likely spit out something that would look eerily like Bora Bora, the South Pacific’s most superlative island group. Remote and beautiful, it’s got it all — palm trees, turquoise waters, and the iconic peak of Mount Otemanu as a backdrop. While Bora Bora is mostly associated with over-water bungalows, there are also opportunities to sink your toes into the sand, including at Matira, the island’s public beach.
Cefalu Beach, Italy
Sicily is experiencing its true moment in the sun thanks to the pop culture gravitas of HBO’s White Lotus television series. Although the second season was based in Taormina at the iconic San Domenico Palace (once a 14th-century convent and now a Four Seasons hotel), the beach scenes were actually filmed on the other side of the island, at Cefalu. It may not be the world’s prettiest beach (although it is scenic, with its golden sand backed by a historic village and massive Norman cathedral), but at the moment it’s one of the most talked-about.
Whitehaven Beach, Australia
It takes most of the world multiple flights, thousands of dollars, and a terrible case of jetlag to see what is regularly declared as the most beautiful beach on Earth. Luckily for Kiwis, it’s just across the pond in Queensland’s Whitsunday Islands. Whitehaven Beach, within a national park, is world-renowned for its blindingly clean white sand and warm turquoise waters. It’s best visited as part of a multi-day boat trip through the Whitsundays, or as a guest at nearby Hamilton Island’s luxurious and all-inclusive Qualia Resort.
Horseshoe Bay Beach, Bermuda
In the Caribbean nation of Bermuda, you’re never far from the beach — in fact, at any given point on the long skinny island, you’re less than 2km from the coast. But its most famous stretch of sand is the salmon pink of Horseshoe Bay Beach, which owes its rosy hue to invertebrate red foraminifera. Contrasted against the crystal blue of the water, the colour is all that much more vivid. A five-minute drive away, holidaymakers will find Church Bay, with its network of shallow reefs that are home to parrotfish and angelfish.
Piscine Naturelle, New Caledonia
The South Pacific island nations of the Maldives and French Polynesia might get all the glory when it comes to tropical paradises. But some of the region’s best beaches are much closer to home in New Caledonia, which is only a three-hour flight away. The most highly rated beach though, may be the Isle of Pines’ Piscine Naturelle, which translates to “natural swimming pool.” Accessed via a tidal channel and surrounded by pine trees, this natural saltwater pool is also popular with tropical fish, who swim at your feet.
According to the 1985 Barry Manilow song, Copacabana is the “hottest spot north of Havana.” That might be true of the fictional club, but the real Copacabana — which inspired the song — is in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. This barrio and its 4km beach embody the best of Brazil: Lively, with beach vendors, kids playing soccer, endless rows of tanned beach bodies, and plenty of places to eat, shop and drink nearby. One thing Manilow’s song did get right? Here, “music and passion are always in fashion.”
Aphrodite’s Beach, Cyprus
Sitting just south of Turkey in the middle of the Mediterranean, Cyprus is a beach destination of mythic proportions. According to legend, this is where the Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite, was born from the sea foam. At Petra tou Romiou, you’ll find her rumoured birthplace along a pebbly beach, and a rock that swum around three times will let you find true love. True love may have to wait though because the sea here tends to be rough. Instead, head north to Coral Bay for a refreshing cool-off.
Nungwi Beach, Tanzania
About an hour’s drive north of Stone Town on the northern tip of Zanzibar, Nungwi Beach is the island’s most popular destination for sea, sun and sand. In addition to its stunning blue waters, it’s also a turtle conservation area, where visitors can swim with green and hawksbill turtles. Active and vibrant, it’s also a great place to watch locals fishing and at play, with plenty of nearby hotels and clubs.
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