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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.