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50 of the world - s most beautiful beaches: in pictures

50 of the world's most beautiful beaches: in pictures

Dreaming of summer and longing to park your bum on some sand? Here's our selection of 50 of the most perfect beaches in the world, including beautiful spots in Bali, hidden coves in Cornwall and spectacular stretches of black sand in Hawaii.

What's your verdict - Bora Bora or Brighton? Let us know in the comments section below.

1. Aruba, Dutch Antilles

You want beaches? You've come to the right place. Lying off the coast of Venezuela, Aruba's beaches are straight out of the glossiest coffee table brochure. Eagle, Mangel Halto, Santo Largo. take your pick.

2. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Just the name Polynesia evokes Crusoesian images of an exotic paradise, filled with endless sunshine, baby-soft sand and impossibly turquoise waters. Bora Bora is one of the group of dots in the Pacific Ocean that is French Polynesia.

3. Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

Forget Copacabana. Brazil could put forward a few candidates for the world's best beaches, but on the islands of Fernando de Noronh, you'll definitely find the odd place to find an agreeable strip of sand to plonk your towel, like Pig's Bay. And while you're in Brazil, why not tick a few of these famous landmarks off your bucket-list.

4. Fethiye, Turkey

Fethiye attracts its fair share of holidaymakers, and no wonder, with its selection of beaches. There's Oludeniz with its blue lagoon, Kelebekler Vadisi with its butterflies and the pine-fringed Kıdrak. Plus, let's not forget the ultimate sunset spot - Calis.

5. La Digue, the Seychelles

The Seychelles are many people's idea of paradise, attracting honeymooners like Kate and Wills to its tropical wonderland. All of the islands here, from Bird Island to Praslin, have first-rate beaches, but we've gone for La Digue - Anse Source d'Argent is a newlyweds' dream.

6. Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides

The Isle of Lewis's beaches are ruggedly beautiful, although this one is also easily accessible and has its own car park. Framed by towering cliffs (some of the highest on the island, in fact), it's a great place from which to admire the fiery Scottish sunsets.

7. Zakynthos, Greece

At the base of steep white cliffs on a hidden side of the Greek island of Zakynthos, lapped by some of the bluest waters you'll ever see, Navagio beach holds a surprise - a shipwreck - left behind by smugglers fleeing the authorities. Want to find your own Greek island paradise? Check out our guide to 20 of the best.

8. Isle of Barra, Scotland

The crystal clear water in this photo might well fool you into thinking this in Indonesia or the Caribbean, but this Scottish gem is much closer to home. Tangasdale Beach on Barra is one of Scotland's most remote beaches, but we reckon it's worth the effort. The surrounding hills make it a great hiking destination, and once you've worked up a sweat you can cool off with a dip in the sea. A word of warning - the water might be Caribbean-clear, but sadly, it's certainly not as warm!

9. Phi Phi Island, Thailand

Remember The Beach? While these days you'll have to look a little harder to find the utopian paradise of the 1990s cult backpacker novel on Thailand's Andaman coast, little gems still shine brightly on Phi Phi. Phi Phi isn't the only Thai island with incredible beaches - here are seven more for you to day-dream over.

10. Ibiza, Spain

Admittedly, there are parts of the White Isle that have been somewhat spoilt, but Ibiza hides away several secret beaches that rank among the best, not only in the Med, but on the planet. Make mine a San Miguel (that's the name of the beach - we're not that beer obsessed around here).

11. Whitsunday Islands, Australia

Often voted Australia's best beach, Whitehaven on Whitsunday Islands is a little quieter than Bondi when the surf's up. It is just one of many turqouise-and-white beaches on the rainforest-clad Whitsunday Islands off the coast of Queensland. Want more pictures of beautiful Australia? Check these out.

12. Durness, Scotland

Who needs palm trees? A warm jumper may be more appropriate than a bikini for stretching out on the sand at Durness in the far north-west of Scotland. Many would argue that it's not even the best beach in Scotland. It's got some competition: Sandwood Bay in Sutherland, Kiloran Bay on Colonsay, Luskentyre on Harris are three of many. Find the full list of Scotland's best beaches here.

13. Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Hawaii

Hawaii's black sand beaches are strangely beautiful, and this is one of our favourites. It's located between Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the small town of Naalehu. Look out for the local green sea turtles, although don't touch them - they're a protected species.

14. Traverse City, Michigan

One of the best beaches in Michigan, the Sleeping Bear Dunes are popular with wildlife spotters. It's close to the North and South Manitou Islands, so it's a great base if you're heading further afield, and the clean, clear water makes it a fantastic swimming spot.

15. Cala Macarelleta, Menorca

Famous for its turquoise water and powdery soft sand, Cala Macarelleta on Menorca is small but stunning. It's hardly surprising that it can get crowded in the summer, but don't let that put you off. It's ones of Spain's best beaches for families, and during the summer months there are lifeguards. When hunger strikes, head to Susy’s Chiringuito for some delicious fresh seafood.

16. Half Moon Beach, Jamaica

One of [Jamaica]('s most beautiful beaches, Half Moon is just a 20 minute drive from Montego Bay. There are no radios allowed on the sand and beach vendors are also banned, so it's a great place to come if you're in need of some chill out time.

17. Trat Province, Thailand

When it comes to Thailand's top beaches, Koh Kood in Trat Province is right up there. Koh Kood's beaches were recently included in Lonely Planet's 50 Beaches to Blow Your Mind, so we recommend heading there sooner rather than later.

18. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

When compiling a list of things to do in Rio de Janeiro, a visit to Copacabana should come top. Sure, it's crowded, noisy and the locals will put you to shame with their golden tans and perfect bodies, but this spectacular location, with its amazing views of Sugarloaf Mountain, is a great place to soak up the sun while seeing how the locals live.

19. St John, US Virgin Islands

St John is one of the most beautiful US Virgin Islands. Trunk Bay falls within Virgin Islands National Park. It's one of the Virgin Islands' best diving spots, and its remote location means you're unlikely to run out of room when it comes to laying out your beach towel.

20. Culebra, Puerto Rico

New flights to Puerto Rico are making this pristine island more accessible than ever before, and every visit should include a stop-off at Flamenco Beach. It's another location which made it into Lonely Planet's 50 Beaches to Blow Your Mind, and we're hardly surprised. The shallow, crystal clear water makes it a great dive spot, whether you're a snorkeler or a scuba diver, and it's easily accessible too - you can get there by road or by hopping on the ferry from the nearby town of Dewey.

21. Morro Bay, California, US

Morro Bay is actually a delightful Californian town, and it's famous for its beautiful beaches. The best ones can be found within Morro Bay State Park, which covers 2,770 acres and includes a museum of natural history, Morro Rock Natural Preserve and the Heron Rookery Natural Preserve. Our favourite beach is the wonderfully wide Coleman Park Beach, which has barbecue pits and a children's play area. It's a fantastic wildlife-spotting destination, too.

22. Gairloch, Western Scotland

Famous for its pink-tinged sands and rocky coves, Gruinard Bay in Gariloch is actually made up of three small bays. You'll enjoy fantastic views across the water to Coigach hills, and if you're a budding geologist, we suggest exploring the rocky shoreline - many rare stones and fossils have been found here.

23. Dorset, UK

For some good old fashioned fun at the seaside, head to Weymouth Beach, one of England's best beaches. It's close to Weymouth town centre and it's popular with families - you'll find plenty of traditional entertainment, including donkey rides and Punch and Judy shows - and in the summer there are regular events, such as volleyball competitions, live music and firework displays.

24. Swansea Bay, Wales

Designated an area of outstanding natural beauty, Three Cliffs Bay is one of the best beaches in Swansea Bay, but it rarely gets crowded. Sand dunes, salt marshes and limestone cliffs make it one of Wales' most spectacular stretches of coastline, and it's a great spot for kids, who can clamber up the sand dunes and hunt for creepy crawlies in the rockpools.

25. Vik Beach, Iceland

This is one of Iceland's most famous black sand beaches. The steep cliffs which surround it are home to thousands of puffins, and it's also famous for its unusual rock formations - legend states that they're the remains of two trolls.

26. Bačvice Beach, Croatia

Easily accessible from Split, this is Croatia's most popular beach. It's crowded but a great place to get to know the real Croatia (locals flock here to play picigin, a traditional ball game played in the water) and to drink coffee at the beach-side cafes. It's got great facilities, including showers and changing rooms at both ends of the beach.

27. Oregon, USA

Cannon Beach is a coastal city in Oregon. Its beaches are wonderfully wild and windblown - visitors come for the wildlife, spectacular landscape and rugged beauty rather than the pristine white sand and beach bars. Not convinced? It was recently voted one of the most beautiful places in the world by National Geographic Magazine. One of the most stunning spots is Hug Point, where waterfalls cascade onto the sand.

28. Frenchman’s Cove, Jamaica

Tucked beneath the Blue Mountains, Jamaica's most beautiful beach rarely gets crowded. The water's wonderfully calm, thanks to its protected position, and the water's clean and clear. It's a popular spot for yoga lovers, who come here to perfect their downward dog on the powdery soft sand.

29. Liku Beach, Fiji

One of the most beautiful beaches in Fiji, remote Liku beach is one of Fiji's least visited beaches - come here and it's highly likely you'll have it entirely to yourself. But there's plenty of nearby accommodation, including some gorgeously rustic beach huts, if you can't bring yourself to leave.

30. Yoron Island, Japan

Japan's beaches are seriously underrated, but what makes Yurigahama Beach unique is the fact that when the tide's low, it gets its very own tiny, additional island, in the form of a small sandbar. It's famous for its star-shaped sand, made from the shells left behind by microscopic organisms called foraminifera.

31. Huntington Beach, California, US

An all-American beach and one of the top beaches in California, Huntington Beach ticks all the boxes. It's actually a town but the beach it's named after is the one to head for. You'll find everything here: great facilities, cool beach bars, beach volleyball areas and added extras like bonfire pits (100 of them to be precise).

32. Shoal Bay East, Anguilla

Shoal Bay is one of the most beautiful spots in the Caribbean. It's a 3.2-kilometre stretch of sand, so there's room for everyone, although if you fancy some time out, head to one of the hammocks suspended from one of the beach's palm trees. We also suggest heading to Gwen's Reggae Bar for some lunch and a cocktail. Or three.

33. Palm Beach County, US

Another example of a city named after a beach, Florida's Boynton Beach has endless spots to lay out your beach towel. Our top picks include family-friendly Ocean Inlet Park, with its snack bar and play area, and the beach which the city is named after. Otherwise known as Oceanfront Park, this popular spot has lifeguards along with barbecue and picnic areas.

34. Lovina Beach, Bali

One of the top beaches in Bali, Lovina Beach is in the north of the island, and offers a crowd-free alternative to the tourist-filled beaches of Kuta, Legian and Seminyak. When hunger strikes, head to the stalls lining the boardwalk. We also recommend picking up some souvenirs at the art shops to the east of the beach. Just don't forget to haggle!

35. Komodo Island, Indonesia

One of the most romantic spots in Indonesia, Pink Beach derives its name from its pink-tinted sand. It's one of only seven pink beaches on the entire planet. The bright green hills which form the backdrop make it even more spectacular, and it's a great dive spot, thanks to the presence of both hard and soft corals, and thousands of species of fish.

36. Tahoe, California, US

Recognised as a National Natural Landmark and framing Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay is surrounded by woodland and feels fabulously remote. It's incredibly rich in wildlife and the waters are protected due to the abundance of marine life. There are also various shipwrecks for divers to explore.

37. Shetland, Scotland

Spiggie Beach isn't just one of the Shetland Island's most beautiful beaches - it's also got a fascinating history. Salted fish, or yoals, were once an important part of islanders' diet and this particular beach is where they came to catch these fish. The eye-wateringly bright colour clash of the green, grassy banks and the dark blue sea is one of the reasons photographers flock to this particular part of Shetland.

38. Norfolk, UK

If you like your beaches wild and rugged, head to Hunstanton Beach in Norfolk, where towering cliffs provide a spectacular backdrop to the crashing waves. But don't be fooled by its remote appearance, because just metres from Hunstanton Beach is the quaint seaside town of the same name. This purpose-built seaside town was built in 1846 and retains its quaint Victorian charm.

39. Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides

The oddly-shaped Seilebost Beach is one of the most beautiful spots in Scotland. You'll enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding islands, and it's highly likely you'll have the entire beach to yourself.

40. Palm Beach County, US

We don't know what we love more - the name of Peanut Island beach, or its spectacular appearance. You'll find some of the cleanest, bluest water here, and it's also a great water sports destination. We recommend hiring a boat and exploring this beautiful part of Florida from the water.

41. Natadola Beach, Fiji

This is how all beaches should be: wide, deserted and with unbelievably soft white sand. If you're staying the night, book into one of the cute beach huts a few metres from the water's edge, and if you fancy channelling your inner explorer, embark on a hike through the forests which surround the beach.

42. Orkney, Scotland

Orkney's most beautiful beach has plenty of sand for the sunbathers, and hundreds of rock pools for budding David Attenboroughs. Its barren, rugged appearance makes it popular with photographers - come here on a clear day and you'll also be able to see the Isle of Hoy.

43. San Diego, US

The epitomy of everything we love about Californian beaches, Coronado is one of California's most lively stretches of coastline, easily accessible from the centre of San Diego and with a whole host of amenities, including a lifeguard service, changing rooms and play areas for the kids. During the winter months you'll be able to twirl around an ice rink, mere metres from the water. Only in America.

44. Lombok, Bali

Don't expect beach bars and rows of sun loungers at Mawun Beach in Bali - just soft white sand, swaying palm trees and colourful fishes swimming in the shallow waters. For breathtaking views, hike up to the top of the hill which overlooks this beautiful bay.

45. Anse Source d'Argent Beach, Seychelles

This is one of many breathtakingly beautiful beaches in the Seychelles, but Anse Source d'Argent beach gets a gold star for its weird and wonderful granite rock formations, bright blue water and perfect palm trees - the ideal backdrop for that all-important selfie.

46. West Nusa, Bali

Senggigi Beach is one of the finest beaches in West Nusa. Framed by a ridge of hills, the water's warm and calm, so it's a great spot for families. It rarely gets crowded, and the shallow waters makes it one of Bali's best snorkelling spots.

47. Tangasdale Beach, Isle of Barra, Scotland

The crystal clear water in this photo might well fool you into thinking this in Indonesia or the Caribbean, but this Scottish gem is much closer to home. It's one of Scotland's most remote beaches, but we reckon it's worth the effort. The surrounding hills make it a great hiking destination, and once you've worked up a sweat you can cool off with a dip in the sea. A word of warning - the water might be Caribbean-clear but sadly, it's certainly not as warm!

48. Nanjizal Beach, Cornwall, UK

This hidden gem is a kaleidoscope of colour, with the topaz-blue water surrounded by heather-covered cliffs. There are plenty of caves and unusual rock formations to explore, and this stretch of coastline is also one of the UK's best places to spot seals.

49. Shikinejima, Japan

Another Japanese gem, Tomari Beach is a protected cove, which is ideal for toe dippers, divers and sunbathers. After a lengthy sunbathing session, hike through the surrounding hills and enjoy an even more spectacular view of this beach from up high.

50. Delray Beach, Palm Beach County, US

Delray isn't your typical Floridian beach, but that's why we love it. It's long and wide with powdery soft sand, fringed with banks of long grass which double as a haven for wildlife. It's another beach which rarely gets crowded; come here during the week and you'll have its untamed beauty entirely to yourself.

Want more beachy inspiration? Try these on for size: 10 best beaches in Ibiza

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