What makes a perfect beach?
It’s a question over 1,000 travel industry experts have given serious thought to, in creating the biggest ever inventory of beautiful beaches the world over.
The brainchild of Flight Network, the new list unveils the insider hot spots that journalists, bloggers and editors flock to for their must-have fix of sunshine.
From the dazzling white glare of Whitehaven in Queensland to Croatia’s golden sandbar, here are 10 of our favourites. Grab your swimmers and tick ’em off your wish list, for a New Year filled with tropicalia…
World best: Hidden beach, El Nido
Why go? Towering limestone karsts lend a dramatic edge to this hideaway on the impossibly beautiful island of Palawan in the Philippines. Translucent water and an abundance of wild vegetation add to the James Bond vibes.
Tag it onto: An island-hopping jaunt around Bacuit archipelago, complete with an overnight stay on a secret beach and dinner cooked by a private chef. You’re welcome.
Untouched: Mazunte beach, Oaxaca
Why go? A Bohemian beach community of artists and musicians form the backbone of this golden getaway on Mexico’s Pacific coast, with limited tech in the local town of Oaxaca providing all the excuse you need to unplug.
Tag it onto: A foodie foray around Mexico, featuring tequila tasting, a street food safari in Mexico City and a cooking class with locals in Oaxaca, with enough family recipes to feed you into the next century. Girdle your appetites.
City: Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro
Why go? Hailed as “the hottest spot north of Havana”, Brazil’s Copacabana beach is a must for people-watchers. Soak in the party atmosphere on this thriving patch of coastline over a caipirinha or three.
Tag it onto: A hop south to the charming colonial town of Paraty, where paddle-boarding, private boat trips and more remote beaches await. Live the dream.
Africa: Noetzie beach, Plettenberg Bay
Why visit? One of the prettiest beaches on the entire continent, South Africa’s Noetzie is accessed via a steep cliff stairway, conjuring up an air of exclusivity and seclusion. It’s a great spot to watch humpback whales from.
Tag it onto: Swimming with seals, the friendly “dogs of the ocean”, who just so happen to hang out in Plettenberg Bay too. Then explore more of the Garden Route with wine tasting, meerkat spotting and a surf lesson. Unmissable.
Asia: Ngapali beach, Myanmar
Why go? A sleepy fishing village that has blossomed into a must-see destination, Ngapali beach is a slice of palm-fringed escapism. It’s the ideal place to round off your adventures in this off-radar region.
Tag it onto: A whirlwind trip around Myanmar, with jungle hill hiking, bathing with rescued elephants and a longtail boat trip between the villages of Inle Lake. And let’s not forget Yangon, with its feted “barbecue street”. An explorer’s paradise.
Oceania: Whitehaven beach, Queensland
Why go? Anywhere that’s accessed only by seaplane or helicopter is bound to be good, and this gem of the Whitsunday Islands in Australia does not disappoint. The horizons here are so idyllic, you won’t believe they’re real until you go.
Tag it onto: Explore the hidden nooks of the Whitsunday Islands on a day-long yacht trip (hello #lifegoals), then pop on over via catamaran to the Great Barrier Reef, where world-class snorkelling beckons. This is not a drill.
The Caribbean: Paraiso beach, Cuba
Why go? The aptly named Paradise Beach on Cuba’s Cayo Largo is completely remote, and aside from a palapa-thatched sunshade here and there, you’ll likely only have resident pelicans or turtles for company.
Tag it onto: Party time in Havana. Learn how to salsa, rustle up flavour-packed cocktails and cruise the picturesque Old Town in a classic convertible car. Happy days.
Europe: Golden Horn beach, Brač island
Why go? Croatia’s unique peninsula beach juts out for five kilometres into the ocean. Fringed by mountains, it makes for a beautiful setting, and people rave about the water quality: it’s turquoise, and oh-so clear.
Tag it onto: A trip to the wilds of Croatia, with waterfall kayaking on Mrežnica River, a hike around Plitvice Lakes National Park and an ale trail jaunt through Zagreb. Win-win.
North America: Isla Holbox, Holbox Island
Why go? Yes, Mexico is geographically in North America, and Isla Holbox is your go-to for tranquil downtime in the area. Hit up this traffic-free island of dreams (and its finest beach) for powdery escapism away from the hordes.
Tag it onto: Wild swimming on the Yucatán Peninsula, from pirate lagoons to emerald cenotes. Throw a few Mayan pyramids into the mix, along with cooking in grand old Mexican towns. A true delight.
South America: Isla del Sol beach, Isla del Sol
Why go? Nestled by Bolivia’s mesmerising Lake Titicaca, this lovely beach is home to ancient Incan dynasty, with spectacular views to boot. Revel in the solitude of the remote island, said to be the birthplace of the sun.
Tag it onto: A jeep safari across the vast salt plains of Bolivia, with a sunset picnic and a stay at a spectacular lodge made entirely from salt blocks. Plus, sumptuous street food in the markets of La Paz. You will love it.
Check out Flight Network’s full list of world-best beaches right here.