“The best kind of therapy, is beach therapy.”
Oh, to feel the sand between your toes. There is no greater feeling, is there? But which beaches are best? Where will we have to battle for a sun lounger? And which beaches should we avoid?
Sometimes, the beaches we fall in love with most are those we stumble across on a coastal road trip, or happen upon after taking a wrong turn somewhere.
Guide books are great, but they sometimes take away a little bit of that adventure, don’t you think?
While many of the beaches recommended in guide books are truly beautiful, the crowds can sort of ruin the vibe. If we head just a little bit off the beaten path we will often find secret little paradises, just for you.
There’s lots of overrated beaches out there, but here is a list of our [least] favourites, and their perfect alternatives…
Overrated: Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia
Alternative: Coogee Beach, Sydney Australia
While this may go against everything you have ever heard about the land down under, Bondi beach is overrated. It’s crowded, busy, expensive and, worst of all, most of the sea is cordoned off for surfing rather than swimming. Head just an hours [beautiful] walk south along the coast and you will find Coogee beach.
This small but perfectly formed bay has a hip vibe, amazing eateries and tumbling waves. What it lacks is crowds and surfers, so it’s perfect for those looking to chill out and enjoy those famous Aussie rays in peace.
Overrated: Anjuna Beach, Goa, India
Alternative: Patnem Beach, Goa, India
Made famous by it’s beach parties and Wednesday flea market, Anjuna has fallen into a state of disrepair. Gone is the white sand, replaced with mud and rubbish thanks to over-eager construction of beach bars and hotels along the seafront.
If you’re after something a little less busy and a little more – well – clean, head to Patnem beach in South Goa. Unlike Anjuna’s trance parties, Patnem’s nightlife is extremely laid back and intimate. Tourists are even encouraged to bring their own instruments into the beach shack bars and play with the locals!
Overrated: Pink Sand Beach, Harder Island, Bahamas
Alternative: Half Moon Caye, Belize
There’s a lot of interestingly coloured beaches found throughout the globe. Some truly live up to their colourful title while others, such as Pink Sand beach in the Bahamas, do not. Sure it’s a great beach in the Bahamas, but it’s popular status makes it a bit of a tourist trap for all the wrong reasons.
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Often mistook as a Caribbean island itself, Belize offers some wonderful alternatives to the popular beaches of the Bahamas. Our personal favourite is found on Half Moon Caye, an island located at the southeast corner of Lighthouse Reef Atoll. This island paradise provides visitors with crystal clear waters filled to the brim with life, as well as idyllic beaches surrounded by a fringing reef. You couldn’t get much better than that, could you?
Overrated: Cancún, Mexico
Alternative: Oaxaca Coast, Mexico
Ah, Spring Break; to be free, wild and young… It’s pretty much a right of passage for every American teen, but it is having some seriously negative affects on once beautiful beaches such as Cancún in Mexico. This once pristine beach is now littered with the aftermath of too much partying, drunk guys included.
For something completely different, head to the Oaxaca Coast where you will find a string of small fishing villages, low-key resorts and, most importantly, near-empty beaches. The coast is littered with sandy gems which come in all shapes and sizes, including Zipolite, Puerto Escondido and Bahías de Huatulco. We recommend taking a road trip along the coast to truly get a sense of what Oaxaca has to offer.
Overrated: Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
Alternative: Phú Quốc, Vietnam
You’ve seen The Beach and you’ve seen the pictures. Koh Phi Phi is an island paradise where visitors can swim in azure ocean, feel overpowered by epic limestone crags, or hide away in dense, undiscovered jungles… Well, along with the other thousands of tourists and touts. It’s unfortunate, but Koh Phi Phi is no longer the utopia it once was. For that, you need to head to Vietnam’s Phú Quốc.
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Phú Quốc is what Koh Phi Phi was before everybody wanted a piece of the pie; it is an island fringed with sandy shorelines and masked in thick rainforest. Unlike Koh Phi Phi, Phú Quốc offers plenty of opportunities for exploration and adventure, plus a sun worshippers dream: perfect beaches, all year sunshine, divine eateries and sumptuous swimming activities.
Overrated: Venice Beach, Los Angelas, California, U.S.A.
Alternative: Will Rogers State Beach, Los Angelas, California, U.S.A.
While Venice Beach is now, and forever will be, a must-see tourist attraction, it feels as though it has lost its cool somewhere along the way. With many vagrants, criminals and wannabes hanging around, it can feel as though you got slightly turned around and ended up in the circus, rather than the beach.
If it’s a truly “beachy” experience you’re after in L.A. look no further than Will Rogers State Beach. Don’t let the [boring] name fool you, Will Rogers is a never-ending stretch of clean, soft sand which is often overlooked by tourists. Whether you join the locals for a competitive game of volleyball or simply sit and take in the views, you’ll be happy you did it at Will Rogers.
Overrated: Costa del Sol Beach, Spain
Alternative: Mojácar Beach, Spain
High prices, high crime rate, and higher and higher buildings have all but destroyed Costa del Sol’s traditional Spanish charm. There is nothing left to say other than, stay away.
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Instead, why not head up the coast to one of Spain’s favourite beach break destinations, Mojácar? This hilltop town has breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains which roll elegantly into the Mediterranean. Down by the seafront, Mojácar still retain everything we love about traditional Spanish architecture, flora and fauna, and with 17km of beach to explore, you won’t be left wanting.
Overrated: Dubrovnik, Croatia
Alternative: Hvar, Croatia
Croatia is a cultural melting pot. Over millennia it has taken everything that is good about Europe’s rich history, mixed it up, and spat it out into what we now call Dubrovnik. The city is dripping in marble and enchanting fortifications. The beaches, however, are not the best this wonderful country has to offer.
To discover why everyone is raving about Croatia, take a boat trip out to Hvar and explore the shorelines. The sophisticated charm of Hvar Town is matched, if not bettered, when you venture away from it. Take a scooter ride through the island to any of the beaches. While you won’t find sand, you will find clear, sapphire seas and sleepy little beach bars.
Overrated: Fiji beaches
Alternative: Tonga beaches
Fiji has beautiful beaches. There is no denying that. But everyone else knows this fact too, so why not look a little further afield?
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Neighbouring Tonga is one of the world’s last hidden gems. Situated in “the place where time began”, Tonga enjoys an eclectic mix of old and new, both in traditions and vistas. The people are laid back, the reefs are filled with life, and with over 170 islands and islets to choose from you are sure to find the beach that’s perfect for you.
Overrated: Ibiza, Spain
Alternative: Formentera, Spain
When you’re in Ibiza you can’t help but get the sense that it is like that guy at the party who never wants it to end. Everyone else has gone home and got into bed and he is still clinging to the walls, trying not to fall over. The sunsets are wonderful but, sadly, the beaches no longer are. It’s lost its edge.
Formentera is like Ibiza’s big sister; a little more grown up and mature, but still with a fun-loving attitude to life. And it still has those sunsets, only this time you can watch them on sugary sanded beaches free from teenage revellers and partied-out ravers.
Overrated: Nice, France
Alternative: Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France
The south of France has been a mecca for sun worshippers and beach babes for an eternity. In the beginning it was all about Nice, St. Tropez and Cannes, but as with all things, it is evolving.
Forget the golden tans of the celebs at St. Tropez and instead marvel at the golden sands of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. Far more laid back and rustic than much of the rest of Southern France, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is the new cool place to be.
Images: Shutterstock and Unsplash/Josh Spires