What makes a great beach all depends on the traveler. Some like 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.
Boasting 333 islands, resplendent resorts, sparkling waters and endless stretches of pristine sand, Fiji is the perfect spot for paradise-seeking beachgoers. If you want to snorkel while on vacation, set your sights on Taveuni’s diverse coral reefs. But for those pining for the tropical beaches featured in “Cast Away” and “Survivor: Fiji,” you’ll want to catch a ferry from Port Denarau and head right to the 20 islands that make up the Mamanucas. Popular options include Qalito Island and Vomo Island.
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 sands and crystal-clear water), but the popularity comes with crowds. Check out Papenoo Beach on Tahiti Nui for excellent surfing and more breathing room.
Bora Bora is small but mighty. Measuring only 6 miles long and 2 miles wide, every inch of the island 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 for the more adventurous traveler.
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 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.
U.S. Virgin Islands
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 Caneel Bay appeal to privacy-seeking honeymooners. St. Thomas’ photogenic Magens Bay is perfect for photo ops (though you might have to battle crowds to get your shot), and St. Croix’s Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge is ideal for travelers wanting to share the sand and surf with leatherback sea turtles.