Relaxation at The Beach
Few destinations are as synonymous with relaxation as beaches. From tranquil options close to iconic sights to rugged spots that feel worlds away from reality, there are plenty of incredible choices across the globe.
To decide which beautiful shorelines to prioritize, U.S. News compiled this selection of the world’s most awe-inspiring beaches. Whether you crave a leisurely afternoon of lounging or an active day filled with hiking or water sports adventures, you’ll instantly feel at ease while visiting these gorgeous beaches.
The Most Beautiful Beaches in the World:
Cannon Beach: Cannon Beach, Oregon
If your perfect beach vacation features postcard-worthy topography and lots of solitude, look no further than Cannon Beach. In this Pacific Northwest town 80 miles northwest of Portland, you’ll discover nearly 4 miles of shore with jaw-dropping rock formations jutting out of the Pacific Ocean. Head to the center of the beach between Ecola Creek and Tolovana Park to gaze at Haystack Rock, a 235-foot-tall sea stack known for its colourful tide pools and puffin colony.
If you’re visiting between late June and late October, you can build an evening bonfire to relax by while watching the sunset. When you need a break from the beach, walk to downtown Cannon Beach to browse its art galleries, boutiques and eateries. Or, retreat to one of the town’s inns, lodges or resorts.
Two traveller-approved options within steps of the beach include the Stephanie Inn and The Ocean Lodge.
Horseshoe Bay Beach: Bermuda
Visit Horseshoe Bay Beach to put a unique spin on your next beach getaway. Situated on Bermuda’s South Shore, this pink sand beach, which is made of a blend of crushed coral, is one of the island’s most popular stretches of sand. Families come here to splash in its calm turquoise water and build blush-coloured sandcastles.
Meanwhile, active travellers love exploring its hidden caves, trekking its trails to Warwick Long Bay and enjoying water sports like snorkelling and paddleboarding (loaner equipment is available for a fee).
Horseshoe Bay Beach’s proximity to the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse also makes it a prime spot to unwind after climbing the 117-foot-tall structure. Don’t forget to save time for a snow cone or rum swizzle (Bermuda’s national drink) from the on-site Rum Bum Beach Bar before retiring for the evening at the nearby Hamilton Princess Hotel & Beach Club.
Mohegan Bluffs: New Shoreham, Rhode Island
What the beach at Mohegan Bluffs lacks in accessibility it more than makes up for in natural beauty. Located at the base of its 200-foot-tall namesake, this Block Island shore offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and – on clear days – New York’s Long Island. Upon arrival, pause to admire your surroundings and read about the bluffs’ ties to the Manissean Indian Tribe.
Then, take the 141 steps down to the sand to sunbathe or swim. After climbing back to the top, walk to Southeast Light to get an up-close look at its 19th-century lighthouse, then hop on a bike to explore the island.
The lighthouse and beach are both stops on the self-guided Block Island Bicycle Tour. End your day with a stay at the Spring House Hotel or The 1661 Inn, two boutique properties with spectacular ocean vistas.
Siesta Beach: Siesta Key, Florida
Regularly lauded as one of Florida’s best beaches, Siesta Key – which is located 7 miles southwest of Sarasota – boasts three gorgeous shorelines, including Siesta Beach. Here, you’ll find colorful lifeguard stands sitting on soft sand made almost entirely of quartz, which gives the sand its pure white appearance and keeps it cool to the touch even on the hottest Florida days.
Plus, Siesta Beach offers tennis and volleyball courts, a covered playground, two concession stands and beach wheelchairs, among other amenities, making it ideal for everyone from families to fitness buffs. When you’re ready for a change of scenery, venture a few blocks north to Siesta Key Village to shop, grab a drink or bite to eat, or listen to live music.
For lodging, reserve a vacation rental or a room at a boutique hotel like Tropical Beach Resorts.
Though you may not think of Iceland as a beach vacation destination, its abundance of volcanoes sets the stage for enjoying an otherworldly beach experience. The country is home to several black sand beaches made from volcanic ash, but the most striking is Reynisfjara in South Iceland. At this desolate beach, you’ll discover jet-black sand, an enormous cave, giant offshore rock formations and a series of stacked basalt columns that will all take your breath away.
Plus, the beach offers proximity to Vík, a seaside village known for its Icelandic Lava Show (the world’s only opportunity to safely observe molten lava) and outdoor adventures like glacier hikes and ice cave treks.
Accommodations by Reynisfjara are limited, so consider making a day trip from popular hotels like The Retreat or the Silica Hotel, which both overlook Iceland’s world-renowned Blue Lagoon and sit about 30 miles southwest of Reykjavik.
Marinha Beach: Lagoa, Portugal
Your jaw will instantly drop the moment you arrive here. Situated within southern Portugal’s Algarve region, Marinha Beach boasts a hard-to-reach location alongside limestone cliffs. Getting to the beach requires traversing a long staircase down to the shore. Though this means Marinha Beach isn’t suitable for travellers with mobility limitations, its remote location helps prevent overcrowding, meaning you can snap plenty of unobstructed photos. Soak up some sun on the sand, then go snorkelling in the clear water.
Remember to bring your own gear since rentals are not available on-site. If you visit during low tide, you can also walk to additional beaches, sea caves and the giant “M” rock.
After exploring the beach, sign up for a boat tour to see more sights from the water or unwind at the upscale Vila Alba Eco-Resort, which sits less than a mile northeast.
Baker Beach: San Francisco
Nestled within San Francisco’s protected Presidio area, Baker Beach offers easy access to some of the city’s best views. From the mile-long shore, visitors will enjoy panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean, Lands End, the Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate Bridge. Head to the beach to sunbathe on the clean golden sand (keep in mind that the northern end is clothing-optional), or bring bait and tackle for a day of fishing.
Baker Beach’s proximity to towering serpentine cliffs also makes the shore a prime spot for hiking, so be sure to save time for a trek on the California Coastal Trail, one of several trails in the Presidio. Although most of the city’s top hotels are located in the downtown area, a few noteworthy options sit within 5 miles of Baker Beach, including the sophisticated Hotel Drisco Pacific Heights.
Grace Bay Beach: Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands
Grace Bay Beach, a 3-mile-long white sand beach in the Turks and Caicos Islands, is incredibly picturesque thanks to its lack of seaweed and rocks. Plus, its position by Grace Bay makes it a terrific option for water activities. Venture a mile offshore to look for parrotfish, reef sharks and more while snorkelling around the barrier reef.
Or, stay close to shore to swim in the calm, shallow water. Travellers can enjoy additional water sports (think: paddleboarding, kayaking and sailing) in the surrounding Princess Alexandra National Park by renting equipment via local outfitter Big Blue Collective.
Resorts at Grace Bay Beach are easy to find, so plan on staying at a property with direct beach access, such as Seven Stars Resort & Spa or Point Grace.
Anse Source d’Argent: La Digue, Seychelles
Featuring massive gray and white boulders, soft white sand, clear blue water and lush tropical vegetation, Anse Source d’Argent is a feast for the eyes. In either direction, you’ll notice gigantic granite boulders perfectly positioned between the water and swaying palm trees.
Follow the lead of countless filmmakers and photographers and capture the Seychelles beach’s beauty on camera before stretching out on the sand or dipping your toes in the calm water. Aim to arrive during low tide when the water is below your knees and more sand is exposed.
Reaching the beach requires passing through L’Union Estate, a coconut plantation that charges an entrance fee of 100 Seychellois rupees (about $5) per nonresident. Lodging is limited on La Digue, so consider taking the ferry from the larger island of Mahé, where the highly regarded Four Seasons Resort Seychelles is located.
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