Turquoise bays and houses on the seaside: 10 best beaches in the world according to Lonely Planet

By TravelWiseFeb 23, 2024 18:25 PMNews
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Turquoise bays and houses on the seaside: 10 best beaches in the world according to Lonely Planet
You should definitely see these picturesque beaches. Source: Freepik

One of the best ways to reconnect with nature is to feel the sand between your toes. The new Best Beaches in the World guide from travel giant Lonely Planet includes popular destinations like Ipanema in Rio de Janeiro and Ao Maya in Thailand, as well as private resort paradises like Mnemba Island in Zanzibar.

Head out early in the morning to enjoy the dazzling volcanic splendor of Sarakiniko in Greece. At the end of the day, the sunset over the Baltic Sea is especially magnificent in Duodde, on the Danish island of Bornholm. Cabo San Juan del Gioia on the Colombian Caribbean coast is worth a two-hour walk, writes Lonely Planet, and a ferry ride to Anse Source d'Argent in the Seychelles is part of the fun.

The Pass, Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia

At high tide, The Pass has a right-hand break that turns this stretch of pink and creamy, pillowy sand into a surfer's paradise. Located on the easternmost point of mainland Australia, Cape Byron, whether you're a pro or a beginner on a board, there's something for everyone in the bay, including lessons for beginners.

Turquoise bays and houses on the seaside: 10 best beaches in the world according to Lonely Planet
The Pass is a surfer's paradise. Source: byronbay.com

The midden (a pile of shells and bones) next to the jetty indicates the rich Aboriginal history of the area, and the subtropical rainforest that runs along the edge of the pass is home to local koalas and bush turkeys. Delta Kay, a woman from the Arakwal Bunjalung tribe, offers walking tours around the cape, and several hiking trails allow you to admire the pass from different angles. The 0.3-mile (0.48 km) Palm Valley Currenbah trail is wheelchair accessible and winds through the palm rainforest to picnic and barbecue areas. The most scenic route, however, is the 2.3-mile (3.7 km) Cape Byron Loop, which passes by the beautiful homes on Wategos Beach and Little Wategos Beach. Note: If you want to surf the pass, a law from 2023 requires that you use a surfboard leash (foot rope).

Getting there: There are a limited number of paid parking spaces on the beach. Arrive in advance or walk from the center of Byron (20 minutes; there is a wheelchair accessible path on the beach). In addition, there is also a limited amount of parking available at nearby Captain Cook and Clarks beaches.

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Turquoise bays and houses on the seaside: 10 best beaches in the world according to Lonely Planet
Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro stretches for 1.9 miles (3 km). Source: Freepik

Known for its amazing sunsets, which locals often applaud, Rio de Janeiro's Ipanema Beach stretches for 1.9 miles (3 km). Local subcultures use the numbered lifeguard chairs as different markers for their sections of the beach. For example, Posto 9, located off Rua Vinicius de Moraes, is a favorite spot for the trendy crowd, attracting the young and beautiful as well as artists and hippies. Praia Farme, located opposite Rua Farme de Amoedo, is a place where the gay community gathers. Posto 8 is a place where children from the favela gather. Between Ipanema and Copacabana, Posto 7 is popular with surfers, and Posto 10 is where volleyball, soccer, and footvolley are played.

Getting there: Ipanema Beach is located in the southern zone of Rio de Janeiro. The Av Vieira Souto street runs along the beach, and the nearest metro station is General Osório.

Ao Maya, Koh Phi Phi, Krabi, Thailand

Measuring just 49 feet wide (15 m) and 820 feet long (250 m), Ao Maya is a sliver of beach hidden beneath limestone cliffs. However, it caught the attention of film director Danny Boyle, who used its ombre turquoise waters and fine white sand as the setting for the 2000 movie The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The popularity of the movie attracted about 6,000 tourists to Ao Maya every day. However, the influx of tourists led to the accumulation of garbage, damage to plants and corals, and disturbance of wildlife.

This prompted Thai officials to close the bay in 2018. They initially hoped the beach would reopen in a few months, but it remained closed until 2022. It was then reopened with improved infrastructure and additional security. Now, tourist activities are governed by new rules: swimming is prohibited (although knee-deep wading is allowed); boats cannot anchor in the bay; and only 375 visitors can visit per hour. Nevertheless, the trip is worth it to spend time in this incredible paradise and appreciate the natural beauty that was almost lost.

Getting there: From neighboring Koh Phi Phi Don, take an early morning boat tour (20 minutes one way) to avoid the crowds. Alternatively, you can get here by speedboat from Phuket and Krabi.

Mnemba Island, Zanzibar, Tanzania

After a few intense days of safari on the Tanzanian mainland, Mnemba Island will be the perfect place to relax. Available only to guests of the 23-room andBeyond resort, this luxurious white sand beach is like your own personal coastal paradise. Indulge in long walks and enjoy some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling spots.

Getting there: Staying at the resort involves a transfer from either Stone Town or Abeid Amani Karume International Airport on Unguja Island, Zanzibar. Then it's a short boat ride to Mnemba Island.

Sarakiniko, Milos Cyclades, Greece

To visit Sarakiniko, the sun-bleached volcanic cliffs that plunge into a small, deep turquoise section of the Aegean Sea, you'll need to bring everything you need. Breathtaking views and cool waters make up for the challenges. Centuries of wave and wind erosion have caused the rocks on the beach to deepen and curve, creating caves to explore and alabaster cliffs to jump off. Sunbathe on the rocks or use them as an access point to slide into the water for snorkeling.

Sarakiniko, one of the most favorite beaches in Greece, can be overcrowded with tourists. To avoid the crowds, come here in September and October. If you come here during the high season, arrive in the morning and the only sounds you will hear are the wind and the lapping of the waves. If possible, come back here at sunset - it's a magnificent sight when the alabaster-colored rocks glow against the fiery hues of the setting sun.

Getting there: Sarakiniko is located 1.9 miles (3 km) north of Adamas port, on the northernmost coast of Milos. There are several daily buses from Adamas in the summer, and parking is available for those arriving by scooter, car, or ATV. Milos Airport receives domestic flights to and from Athens, or you can reach Milos by ferry from the Athens port of Piraeus (2½ to 6½ hours), as well as from other islands such as Santorini (two hours).

Chesterman Beach, Tofino, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Turquoise bays and houses on the seaside: 10 best beaches in the world according to Lonely Planet
Most people come to Chesterman Beach to surf, but the views will take your breath away. Source: gotofino.com

Most people come to Chesterman Beach to surf, but the scenery will take your breath away. From the misty mornings when the fog falls on the soft sand to the fiery skies in the evening when the sun sinks behind the cedars, you can spend the whole day here. The beach is also great for kayaking, paddleboarding, and watching hundreds of colorful starfish, anemones, urchins, and other marine life appear in the tide pools.

You can even enjoy the beach while whale watching, practicing outdoor yoga, or walking along the sandbar at low tide. The calm summer months are ideal for beginner surfers, and there are several surf schools in town run by experts. Winter, with its serious surf, attracts experienced surfers. Surfing competitions are also held here. Be sure to bring a wetsuit as the water temperature does not exceed 57°F (13.8°C).

Getting there: Chesterman Beach is located 3.1 miles (5 km) south of Tofino, near the far western end of the Pacific Highway on Vancouver Island. You can easily get here by bike from Tofino. Regular ferries run between Vancouver and Nanaimo (on Vancouver Island) in just under two hours. From there, it's 125 miles (200 km) west to Tofino - about three hours by car or four hours by bus.

Cabo San Juan del Gia, Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

The golden sands and coconut palms of Colombia's Caribbean coast, surrounded by tropical rainforests, look like paintings - especially Cabo San Juan del Gia. It is located in a national park that stretches along the coast from the Taganga River near Santa Marta to the mouth of the Rio Piedras, 22 miles (35 km) to the east, and covers about 29,900 acres (12,100 ha) of land and 7,400 acres (3,000 ha) of coral-rich sea.

Although it will take a bit of a hike to reach these picturesque turquoise bays surrounded by rocky outcrops (approximately 2 hours), it is well worth it - and many agree, as the beach is popular with locals and tourists alike. If you want to wake up with an incredible view, you can rent a hammock, a tent, or one of the few houses surrounding the beach. Note: they are rented out on a first-come, first-served basis, so arrive early, especially during the high season (December and January). There is also a restaurant here, so you won't go hungry, but don't forget to bring water or a purifying device, as you will need it here. Plastic is not allowed in the park, so make sure you don't bring any with you. You'll want to leave this beautiful beach in pristine condition for future generations to enjoy.

Getting there: From the Santa Marta Public Market to the entrance of El Zaino Park, 23 miles (37 km) to the east, you can take a bus that leaves frequently every day. Shuttle buses run from the park entrance to the trailhead. You can also reach the beach on a two-hour walk or a 50-minute boat ride.

Anse Source d'Argent, La Digue, Seychelles

Turquoise bays and houses on the seaside: 10 best beaches in the world according to Lonely Planet
The Seychelles are the most beautiful tropical islands in the world in the Indian Ocean. Source: Tobias Alt, wikipedia.org

Seychelles is the world's most beautiful tropical island in the Indian Ocean. With its pristine white sands shaded by coconut palms and shallow turquoise waters lapping gently over granite boulders, Anse Source d'Argent is usually found on lists of the world's best beaches, and no wonder. This is a dream beach. Getting here is quite an adventure, but a fun one that includes a ferry, a bike ride (or a walk) to L'Union Estate, a former vanilla and coconut plantation that charges a small fee for beach access.

Before heading 0.43 miles (700 m) down the road, take a moment to explore the estate turned museum and get your first glimpse of heaven on earth. While enjoying the beach, you can also sip on freshly squeezed fruit juices and coconut cocktails (with rum if you prefer) at one of the rustic beach bars located along the beach. To avoid the inevitable crowds, come early in the morning and then return later in the evening (with the same entrance ticket) to enjoy a gorgeous sunset on an almost empty beach.

Getting there: La Digue can be reached in less than two hours by ferry from Victoria on the main island of Mahé, and in just 15 minutes by ferry from Baie St. Anne on Praslin.

Playa Balandra, La Paz BCS, Mexico

A closed beach in a bay with shallow waters and azure waters, Playa Balandra is ideal for children. In addition to swimming, it is also a very active beach where you can rent kayaks and paddleboards. Visitors to the beach can also explore the tide pools and hike to the neighboring coves. A protected area surrounded by arid, cactus-covered mountains, the beach is part of the azure Balandra Bay with clear water and white sand. Currently, only 450 people per day are allowed on this beach (with two time slots from 8 am to noon and from 1 to 5 pm), so it's never too crowded, but it's still best to get there early to take up some free time. The first Sunday of every month is reserved exclusively for locals, so make sure you plan your beach day in advance. Please note that beach chairs and umbrellas are available for rent, but there are no other facilities.

Getting there: Make the 30-minute drive north from La Paz in a rental car or take the bus from La Paz Malecon bus station, which leaves about every two hours from 9 am.

Punta Paloma, Tarifa, Cádiz, Spain

With its soft sands, sparkling waters and wind-carved dunes against the backdrop of Morocco and the Strait of Gibraltar, it's easy to see why Punta Paloma is one of Spain's most seductive beaches. The deep blue Atlantic offers excellent swimming, the dunes offer dazzling views, and the beach restaurants offer tinto con limón (red wine with lemonade). This beach is loved by everyone from beginners to locals.

A walk along the western end of the curved sand will lead you to natural mud baths where you can color your skin with mineral-rich mud. There are several other hiking and horseback riding trails along the surrounding hills, some of which will take you to sites such as the prehistoric Los Algarbes necropolis.

If you prefer the beach, there are several opportunities for kitesurfing rentals and lessons. And if you prefer the sand and watching the waves, you'll likely be able to spot dolphins, whales, migratory birds, and maybe even a turtle.

Getting there: Punta Paloma is located 6.2 miles (10 km) northwest of Tarifa and is only connected by bus during the summer months. Tarifa is easily accessible by car or bus from Malaga, Gibraltar, Jerez or Seville, all of which have international airports.

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