17 exceptional beaches worldwide

Author Carina Klein
· 9 min read · 20 comments

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A list of the most unique beaches we found on our travels. Some are world-famous, others are off-the-beaten-path. They are white or pink or black. Some feature ruins or caves or amusement parks. All are uncommon in their own way!

We have visited a lot of beaches on our travels. Some were cold, some were hot. Some were white, some were black. Some were close to home, some very far away. Many of them were off-the-beaten-path and quite exceptional in their own way. Here's a list of our favorite beaches worldwide with a few bonus bucketlist-beaches added. In this comprehensive overview, you'll find the perfect beach for you!


Germany, Sankt Peter-Ording

Have you ever considered Germany as a beach destination? We have 1585 km (985 miles) of coastline and 92 islands in the North and Baltic Sea. The North Sea beaches are super unique as they are part of the Wadden Sea, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Wadden Sea is a 9000 km² (3475 square miles) area in the tidal zone, which is completely devoid of water during low tide and flooded at high tide. One of the best beaches to experience the change of the tides is Sankt Peter-Ording. It's 12 km (7.5 miles) long and 2 km (1.3 miles) wide. Don't forget to visit one of the many stilted restaurants on the beach!

Picture of stilted restaurants on Sankt Peter-Ording beach
Sankt Peter-Ording beach

Iceland, Reynisfjara

You've possibly all heard about the famous black beach on Iceland's southern coast. It's said to be one of the ten best non-tropical beaches in the world - and it really lives up to the hype! It features black sand, basalt columns, and a cave. In the distance, you can see the dramatic Reynisdrangar rocks. There's no need to bring your bathing suit though: The waves and currents can be very strong and the temperature doesn't exceed 12° C (53° F) even in summer.

Picture of black sand at Reynisfjara beach
Reynisfjara beach

Portugal, Benagil

Portugal, especially the southern part of the country, has so many stunning beaches that it's hard to decide which one is the best. The Algarve features a plethora of beaches, which are framed by picturesque cliffs. What makes this Benagil beach unique is its location in a cave. You can either take a guided boat tour from Benagil's main beach, rent a SUP or a kayak, or swim if you're really brave (guess which mode of transport we chose 😅). Whichever way you go, it's well worth the visit!

Picture of Benagil cave
Benagil cave

Spain, Canary Islands, Maspalomas Dunes

The Maspalomas Dunes are located on the south coast of Gran Canaria. It's a 4 km² (1.5 square miles) dune area that borders the Atlantic Ocean. It's a protected nature reserve since 1987. Rumor has it that the sand originated from the Sahara, but it's actually from the ocean floor, which fell dry during the last ice age. The adjacent beach is very nudist and gay-friendly.

Picture of Dunas de Maspalomas, Canary Islands
Maspalomas Dunes, Gran Canaria


Sri Lanka, Dikwella

Sri Lanka boasts loads of beautiful beaches. The catch? - Most of them are not swimmable due to strong currents. The solution? Hiriketiya Beach in Dikwella. This horseshoe-shaped bay on the south coast of Sri Lanka is a beach lover's paradise! You can swim or surf and when you want to relax on land, there are a couple of nice restaurants. No wonder this place is becoming increasingly popular with digital nomads.

Picture of Horseshoe Bay, Sri Lanka
Hiriketiya Beach Dikwella

Indonesia, Komodo, Pink beach

Did you know that the pink color of the sand originates from the organ pipe coral (or tubipora musica)? And yes, it really is that pink! It's quite off-the-beaten-path - you can best reach this beach with a boat tour from Labuan Bajo, Flores - but it's well worth the effort. It's a perfect picture spot! Don't miss out on the opportunity to snorkel to see the underwater life of the Komodo National Park.

Picture of Pantai Merah or Pink Beach
Pink beach, Komodo National Park

Thailand, Koh Mook & Emerald Cave

Koh Mook is the quintessential off-the-beaten-track Thai island paradise. It's located in the Andaman Sea in the very south of Thailand. Pearl Beach will win you over with its picturesque sandbank.

Pro tip: The very best beach can be visited on the west coast of Koh Mook. You can find it in the Emerald Cave, which is only reachable by boat. You have to swim through a 20 meter (65 ft) long tunnel during low tide to enter it - this is a hidden gem in the truest sense of the word!

Longtail boats on Koh Muk beach
Koh Mook beach

Bucketlist: Japan, Okinawa, Star Sand Beach

Not only is Okinawa the tropical island paradise of Japan, but it also boasts a most unusual beach on the island of Taketomi. Here, the sand is actually shaped like tiny stars. The reason? It's comprised of microscopical organisms called foraminifera. A local legend says that the stars are the offspring of the North Star and the Southern Cross, which were swallowed by a serpent. The remaining skeletons get washed ashore on Taketomi.


Dominican Republic, Bacardi Beach

We've seen the best beaches of our life in the Dominican Republic. They just have the perfect kind of sand and palm trees. The one beach which is even better than the rest is the Bacardi Beach on the small island of Cayo Levantado - named after the famous Bacardi commercial. You can either stay at the only hotel on this island (the Bahia Principe Luxury Cayo Levantado) or visit it on a day trip, which will take you through the Los Haitises National Park. Our advice: order a fresh piña colada served in a real pineapple!

Picture of Barcadi Beach, Dominican Republic
Bacardi Beach, Dominican Republic

USA, New York, Coney Island

This beach is exceptional because of its location in one of the largest and most vibrant cities in the world. It's a perfect getaway from all the tourists and the hustle and bustle of Manhattan and easy to reach with just a short subway ride. To top things off, there's an amusement park with rides, roller coasters, and a Ferris wheel for the perfect overview right next to the beach.

Picture of Coney Island amusement park and beach from ferris wheel
Coney Island amusement park and beach

Mexico, Tulum

Tulum boasts the perfect combination of history and beach vibes. Here, you cannot only find super instagrammable restaurants and incredibly relaxing beach clubs, but you can also find ancient Mayan ruins right on the beach. The ruins overlook the Caribean sea from 12 m (39 ft) high cliffs. Its historical significance was at its height between the 13th and 15th centuries.

Picture of Tulum ruins and beach
Tulum ruins and beach

Bucketlist: USA, California, Glass Beach

In Fort Bragg, California the beach is full of sea glass, which was created by discarded glass waste. Nowadays, the glass diminishes because of erosion and tourists taking glass (just don't do it). Efforts are made to replenish the beach with glass. I guess we'll just have to go and check the beach out ourselves!

North Africa and the Middle East

Jordan, Dead Sea

When you visit the Dead Sea, do choose a private beach! You'll want to have access to a shower when you exit the super salty water. Additionally, it's easy to underestimate the floating powers of the saltwater and get water in unpleasant places - a lifeguard with freshwater could come in very handy in this case. Also, many private beaches offer complimentary Dead Sea mud treatments. Go give it a try - your skin will thank you!

Picture of a private beach, Dead Sea, Jordan
Private beach, Dead Sea, Jordan

Egypt, Dahab

The Dahab beaches might not be the most conventionally beautiful ones you'll ever see. But they make up for it with their vibe. Dahab is a hippie town and the beach is full of relaxed restaurants with loungers and pillows everywhere. If you keep your eyes open you can see the occasional camel walk by. But the best part about this beach is the Red Sea in front of it. This is hands down one of the top places worldwide to scuba dive and snorkel right from the beach! Just grab your mask and snorkel and find healthy coral reefs, friendly turtles, and loads of colorful fish!

Picture of a beach in Dahab
Dahab beach

Bucketlist: Oman, Sugar Dunes of Al Khaluf

The dunes of Al Khaluf are called sugar dunes because of their brilliant white color. The white sand stretches along the coast for many kilometers (or miles 😉). This is a true hidden gem so you'll need a four-wheel-drive car to reach it. The best part: wild camping is allowed - take only photos, leave only footprints!

Australia & New Zealand

Bucketlist: Australia, Whitehaven Beach

This is the quintessential bucketlist beach. It's situated on Whitehaven Island, one of the 74 islands of the Whitsundays. This island is uninhabited, which makes it an untouched paradise. The 7 km (4.3 mile) long Whitehaven Beach is one of the whitest beaches in the world due to its high content of silica.

Bucketlist: New Zealand, Hot Water Beach

In Whitianga on New Zealand's North Island, you can find the Hot Water Beach. This name says it all: underground hot springs heat the water beneath the sand so that you can literally dig your own private hot tub on the beach during low tide. If you don't have a spade with you you can rent one on-site.


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Gabby - The Real Gab

11.05.2021, 03:48

I'm a bit behind so just getting to reading this. Great post! I love that it's not all just the typical tropical white sand beaches you'd see on a list normally. I want to go to that beach in Thailand when I make it back there someday!. Is it scary to swim through the tunnel??

I have the Whitsundays on my bucketlist as well and Tulum. Though I'd take any nice, warm beach right about now, haha.

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

12.05.2021, 10:02

To be honest I wouldn't have gone through that tunnel without a guide. Right now I would be happy with a still rather cold German beach. Let'e hope that both of us make it to the Whitsundays soon!

Wendy White

30.04.2021, 08:13

I've only been to Whitehaven Beach and Hot Water Beach. Whitehaven is beautiful but I wasn't that impressed with Hot Water Beach. In fact, I have a post if you want to read it.

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

30.04.2021, 11:22

Thank you for sharing your post about hot water beach! So useful!


30.04.2021, 01:19

That pink beach looks amazing! But I don't know about swimming through a tunnel at low tide. I'm feeling very claustrophobic over here! Thank you for this great list of beaches to stoke my wanderlust! I feel like an idiot for missing the black beach in Iceland. I guess I have to go back!

Carina | Bucketlist2Life

30.04.2021, 11:20

I would have never dared to go through the tunnel if it wasn't for the tour guide swimming with me!


29.04.2021, 00:45

Great job compiling the list Carina. I love the desert environment but your list of best beaches certainly provides the polar opposite destinations. Love your selections! Iceland and Dahab are awesome and the addition of Coney Island is fun. Heading to the Florida in 3 weeks so I’ll forward some pics for a future additional update. Thxs for blogging.

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Carina | bucketlist2life

30.04.2021, 11:51

Thank you! I hope to see the Florida beaches myself one day. I'm a huge lover of the desert climate myself so I'm particularly fond of the beaches that border the desert. Egypt has some great beaches and so has Jordan. And the beaches of Oman are very high on my bucketlist!

Clazz - An Orcadian Abroad

28.04.2021, 23:40

Such a great list - I didn't expect to see Germany on there! That black beach in Iceland is high on my list to visit, as is Benagil!

Love that map widget you've used by the way. :D

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

30.04.2021, 11:30

Thank you! We're putting a lot of work in our bucketlist2life app at the moment!

Following the Rivera

28.04.2021, 14:40

I’m always ready for a beach post! I’ve never been to Okinawa or Egypt, so I’d be keen to try these two places first as they would tick two boxes: beach and new destinations!

Carina | Bucketlist2Life

28.04.2021, 17:11

Sounds like me: always ready for a beach and always ready for a new destination!


28.04.2021, 14:17

There's always this magical thing about beaches and the shore. The perpetual push and pull of the tides in every beach that exist in the world. I am particularly fond of the one in Tulum as well The Pink Beach in Indonesia and Bacardi Beach in Dominican Republic too.

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

30.04.2021, 11:41

Thank you again for your incredibly poetical comment :) Great that you know all these beaches!

Elena at TravelByExample

28.04.2021, 05:24

I love beaches, they are my happy place! :) Adding to my bucket list few beaches from your post!

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

28.04.2021, 11:04

Awesome! Let us know when you tick them off!


28.04.2021, 04:36

I’m all about the beach so absolutely love all your recommendations! I’ve only been to one of these (Tulum) so I guess I’ve got some beach days ahead!

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

28.04.2021, 10:56

Great to know that you're a beach-lover like us! The Tulum beach is great isn't it?

John Quinn

28.04.2021, 01:30

What a great list Carina. I’ve only been to a few (though I don’t usually aim for beaches). I would like to see the Benagil in Portugal, it looks really special. Ah that bucket list grows ever bigger.

Carina | Bucketlist2Life

28.04.2021, 11:06

Oh yes the problem of the ever growing bucketlist...

Travel for a while

27.04.2021, 21:38

Wow, so many amazing beaches. The pink beach in Indonesia and the black beaches in Iceland look amazing, screen-saver material. Also, I wouldn't mind spending a couple of weeks close to Bacardi Beach :)

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

27.04.2021, 22:19

I tried my best to edit old pictures which were never intended for a blogpost^^ I think weeks at the Bacardi Beach would be the end of me. I would consume solely pina coladas and loose all muscle mass X)

Chalk and cheese travels

27.04.2021, 21:11

I can honestly say I have not visited one of these. Great list will have to start ticking some off.
I still can't believe I never went to Whitehaven when I lived in Queensland for so long. The dead Sea in Jordan would be my top from that list

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

27.04.2021, 21:33

Some of these beaches are quite off the beaten path so it's understandable that you haven't visited them. But not visiting Whitehaven while living in Queensland is almost a crime in my book!


27.04.2021, 21:11

I'm not even really a beach person and I still have an overwhelming desire to visit all of these now. Beaches are so pretty, I usually just get bored of sitting on a beach, so love the idea of some of those with something to do nearby or with some incredible views to photograph.

Carina | Bucketlist2Life

27.04.2021, 21:30

Thank you for the compliment! Many of these beaches are quite active! I think only the one in the Dominican Republic is a sit down beach. The others have caves to explore or amusement parks or nature walks or ruins or you can snorkel or surf...

Stefan (BerkeleySqB)

27.04.2021, 20:39

I will revisit this post again many times, Carina. To me this comes pretty close to the quintessential work on best beaches. The only thing that irks me is that, while I'm a huge beach lover, and while I've been close to quite a few of the locations, I have not visited a single one of these beaches yet. (Ellie's been to the ones in Jordan and Egypt.)

Carina | Bucketlist2Life

27.04.2021, 21:25

Thank you! The thing that always bugged me about the best beaches blogposts is that the authors haven't really visited them and the pictures are often stock photos. I tried to give this "genre" a more personal take. All of those beaches (minus the bucketlist ones) are tested and approved by us!

Retirestyle Travel

27.04.2021, 20:07

These beaches look and sound amazing. I fantasize about beaches on remote islands like Bora Bora.

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

27.04.2021, 21:34

Oh yes the beaches of the South Sea are firmly on our bucketlist!


27.04.2021, 19:32

Great list Carina! Love that beach in Iceland! Try to check also the great beaches in the Philippines. ;)

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

27.04.2021, 21:19

The Philippines are very high on our bucketlist!

Bernie and Jess Watt

27.04.2021, 15:54

That's quite the mixed bag. The German beach and the one in Iceland look brutally cold. The rest are great. When you get to Australia, it's hard to go wrong with any coastal beach (the ones in the bays are pretty meh). For the Caribbean, love the idea of Bacardi Beach. Flamenco Beach in Puerto Rico is also world class.

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

27.04.2021, 16:27

The German beach is actually very swimmable - at least during the summer ;) Thank you for making me aware of Culebra!

Jodie | That Happy Reader

25.04.2021, 15:33

These are all beautiful beaches! You must travel to Hawaii to see the diversity in the beaches there. Thanks for sharing.

Carina | Bucketlist2Life

25.04.2021, 15:56

True Hawaii must be a real paradise for lovers of unique beaches!


25.04.2021, 13:26

Some of these are ending straight in my travel bucketlist! Thank you so much for sharing x

Carina | Bucketlist2Life

25.04.2021, 13:42

You'll be literally able to copy our bucketlist very soon. We're working on it!


25.04.2021, 12:04

These all look incredible! You've evidently travelled an awful lot, and it's wonderful to see such variation across different beaches. Okinawa sounds so unique, I'd love to explore Japan one day and this would be a brilliant addition

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

25.04.2021, 12:31

We've travelled quite a bit but there are still so many more places to explore. Like the beaches of Okinawa which have intrigued me ever since I learned about them.