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9 Blissful Beach Destinations for Sun, Sand, and Serenity

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Updated: 22nd March 2024

Deciding which of the world’s best beach destinations to visit is as challenging as writing a highly subjective list ranking them. A do-nothing beach vacation on a private Maldives island couldn’t be any more different from an active hiking adventure amongst Norway’s spectacular paper-white sands in Lofoten – yet they are both magical in their own ways.

From Caribbean island escapes and Pacific Ocean hideaways to Europe’s best beach destinations and Africa’s often-overlooked shorelines, the most beautiful beaches in the world are found in all four corners. Here are nine of my favourite beach destinations worldwide, perfect for sunbathing, snorkelling, surfing, or simply soaking in the views while resting under the shade of a palm tree – absolute bliss!

Florida, USA

Why and when? There’s no need to fly to the Caribbean for excellent seafood and sugar-white sands when Florida is necklaced by bath-like waters and inviting sands. And for the most part, Florida’s climate makes these sensational spots welcoming year-round. Still, the most reliable and enjoyable weather is usually between November and April, especially as the Atlantic hurricane season is of concern from June until November, and the temperatures can almost be too hot to be pleasant in summer.  

Where to stay for the best beaches? One of Florida’s many charms is that you’ve got the whole beach menu. Fancy a city break with spectacular shorelines on your doorstep? Head to ever-famous Fort Lauderdale or Clearwater, where the city’s barrier island beach and even more idyllic Caladesi Island won’t disappoint. For more shimmering turquoise and cyan waters, keep driving south to the Florida Keys, a dreamy archipelago where you can retreat to one of the best beach villas in Florida to enjoy picturesque sunbathing spots such as Smathers or the small clutch of islands in Dry Tortugas National Park. Not that you need to go that far when you could just slip away to a campsite in Saint George Island State Park for some of the most untouched and wild sands, dunes and wistful stargazing.

A mountain looms behind a white sand beach and cyan waters in Mauritius
Mauritius’ best beaches are usually backed by dense vegetation, providing privacy


Why and when? Of all the beautiful beach destinations on this list, Mauritius is perhaps my favourite. There’s something about this Indian Ocean island that is almost too magical to put into words. Perhaps it’s all of the cultured festivals – come in late January for Cavadee, a Tamil festival of firewalking and temple offering, or March for Hindu Holi – or the fact there are plenty of hikes and waterfalls away from the beaches, but either way, it’s hard to trump. With just two seasons, the best time to visit Mauritius is generally considered to be on the season’s edges, so April and May or September and October. Still, the climate is pretty mild and enjoyable year-round. If you want the best deals, then January until March might be worth considering. Just be aware that cyclones can — and do, as I discovered first-hand when I went in March — be a problem during these months.

Where to stay for the best beaches? Some of the top places to visit in Mauritius to make the most of the beaches are the snorkelling-friendly sands around Le Morne, Mauritius’ UNESCO-listed mountain, and Trou aux Biches, where I was lucky enough to stay at the oh-my-gosh-this-is-heaven Beachcomber Resort for a few nights. Flic en Flac and the swirling mix of white sands and vegetation at Île aux Cerfs are two more excellent choices, although I think it’s fair to say all of Mauritius’s beaches are top-notch.

Padar Island in Komodo National Park, Indonesia
Padar Island in Komodo National Park, Indonesia

East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

Why and when? I love staying in Bali, but if you’re heading to Indonesia for the beaches, there are better islands for a sand-based escape. My advice, travel a little further to the eastern group of the Lesser Sunda Islands in the East Nusa Tenggara province, where you’ll have around 500 islands to choose from, depending on the kind of trip you’re after. The dry season, between April and October, is generally considered the best time for travelling in Indonesia. I know many people highlight December and January as a popular time for Aussies to vacation, but I’d disagree. Yes, the rain showers often pass quickly, but they can also leave the beaches and waters far from inviting. 

Where to stay for the best beaches? With a pick of some of the world’s best beaches, this group of islands doesn’t disappoint. Seeking sunbathing, sensational views and some otherworldly animal encounters? Pick one of the islands within the Komodo National Park as your base, and you’ll have easy access to Komodo Dragons, pink beaches, and Padar’s viewpoints. Keen on a surf retreat? Head to the south of Sumba island, one of the largest and most diverse in this part of the country. Want to go more offbeat? Venture to the Alor Archipelago, where footprint-free beaches are abundant.

A white sand beach overlooks the private overwater villas in the Maldives
Staying at the Adaaran Club Rannalhi resort

The Maldives

Why and when? The Maldives need little introduction. This is a beach destination superlative, after all. But while pristine, private island beaches and overwater bungalows are the typical Maldives’ postcard, you can also explore the archipelago more freely if you wish, hopping between local islands where you’ll have more opportunities to see the nation’s way of life. For most, the best time to holiday here for sun-kissed beach days is between November and April. During the low season, from May until October, lower prices are offset by a higher chance of rain.

Where to stay for the best beaches? It’s hard to find a bad beach in the Maldives, but unlike other vacations where you can easily stumble upon new shorelines, here it’s all in the planning. Still, no matter which island you stay on, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have excellent snorkelling and scuba diving, silky soft sands, and gently lapping tranquil waters. It will be your budget (boat vs sea plane transfers) that will likely define the atoll you choose. When I visited, I found an excellent deal at the Adaaran Club Rannalhi, which allowed this otherwise out-of-budget destination to become a reality. When you’re planning your own trip, use a Maldives holiday specialist to help you work out the pros and cons of each resort and secure some better deals. The place we booked would have been nearly double the price if we had gone with the OTA I usually use to make hotel reservations. 

A beach on the island of Mallorca
Beautiful bays and beaches are common all across the Balearic Islands

The Balearic Islands, Spain

Why and when? From Barcelona’s urban shores to the year-round warm climates of the Canary Islands, Spain is home to many of the top beach destinations in Europe. But for me, it’s the Balearic Islands that shine brightest. South of Barcelona, the archipelago’s four main islands – Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera – all dazzle in their own way. Ibiza is best known for its world-class nightlife, Menorca is far more laid-back, and a city break in Palma de Mallorca will give you the best of both worlds. The best time to visit the island group is between April and October, when the weather is more reliable, and everything is open. Summer can be scorching and expensive, so I’d suggest a spring or autumn visit. 

Where to stay for the best beaches? Deciding which of the Balearic beaches to use as a base will depend on the type of vacation you’re seeking. Once you’ve picked an island – there are ferries to island-hop if you prefer – based on your interests, you’ll be spoiled for choice regardless. In Mallorca, Cala Agulla and Caló del Moro are two of my favourites. Heading to Ibiza? Cala Carbó and Las Salinas are spectacular. You’ll find a few of Spain’s hidden gems here, too, especially if you’re willing to splurge on Formentera’s exclusive resorts (Calo des Mort is a great spot) or consider a more remote corner of Menorca. 

Flying over Whitehaven Beach, and then visiting it, is one of my favourite Australian memories
Flying over Whitehaven Beach and then visiting it is one of my favourite Australian memories

Queensland, Australia

Why and when? Australia’s “Sunshine State” is arguably the best beach destination in Australia (sorry, WA, you’re a close second!). Not that this narrows down much, as Queensland’s coastline is more than 4000 miles in length before you even consider the state’s incredible islands. From the subtropical climate of the south to the two seasons of the Far North, the gateway to rainforests and the famous Great Barrier Reef, the differences are noticeable. In the south, say around the Gold Coast, you’ll get sun for most of the year, with April until October being prime time. In the Far North, you might want to avoid the wet season between November and March – though really, having visited during January, it can still be a delight.

Where to stay for the best beaches? Queensland’s best places are numerous, and you’ll find many of the world’s best beaches here, which was one of the reasons I was so keen to drive the whole State from bottom to top. K’gari (Fraser Island), the world’s largest island made entirely of sand, is incredible – with highways and runways being on the golden beaches. Whitehaven Beach, often given the crown of Australia’s best, is a boat- or flight-accessible delight of dazzling silica sands swirling with an endless palette of blues. Not that you need an island for an excellent beach. Some of the finest on Queensland’s mainland include Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas, the excellent surfing around Noosa, and the more untouched sands around Hervey Bay, ideal for launching off on a whale-watching trip.

A pristine beach in Aruba
Aruba’s beaches are ideal for water sports or simply relaxing


Why and when? Aruba packs a little bit of everything into a pocket-sized Caribbean escape. You’ve got some of the world’s best beaches, wild and rugged landscapes in the Arikok National Park, and colourful cities just a stone’s throw from silky soft sands. However, one of the best reasons to visit Aruba is its location outside the hurricane belt, making it a great Caribbean beach destination year-round. This is especially good for those wanting a deal, as the low season between April and August can be enjoyed with more reliable weather alongside better deals. 

Where to stay for the best beaches? There’s a reason Aruba is one of the top beach destinations in the world – you’re never far from a sensational shoreline. And while the island is pretty small, that doesn’t mean its beaches lack diversity. My personal favourite is Mangel Halto, a secluded, mangrove-framed spot where cyan shallow waters offer excellent snorkelling. Prefer your snorkelling with turtle sightings? Head north to Malmok. Continue further, and you’ll reach the serene Sasarawichi Dunes, best admired after climbing the California Lighthouse. Then, you’ve got the more wild side of the island, with Dos Playa in the National Park being one of my favourite rugged swimming spots. Bring your scuba licence, too, as you can enjoy some of the best wreck diving in the world here.

A beach club along the Albanian Riviera wedged into the cliffs
A beach club along the Albanian Riviera wedged into the cliffs

The Albanian Riviera

Why and when? The Albanian Riviera has fast become fashionable, and one of Europe’s more offbeat destinations is now a popular summer getaway. But summer (July and especially August) isn’t the best time to come to Albania’s spectacularly shimmering southern beaches, as you’ll be fighting with fellow beach-goers for the best spots. Instead, holiday here in June or September to enjoy a little more space and still fantastic weather – it’s only a ferry ride from Corfu, Greece, so the climate is enjoyable from April until October. Outside of these months, many beach clubs and facilities might not yet be open for the season. Albania is also an excellent value beach destination when compared to some of Europe’s better-established Mediterranean resorts. 

Where to stay for the best beaches? The Albanian Riviera is a 75-mile-long stretch facing the Ionian Sea, making beach-hopping easy. Taking a boat trip to one of the tiny islands or hard-to-access craggy coves will only elevate your experience. Around Sarandë, the most developed resort and city, you’ll likely find the best choice of affordable accommodation and plenty of restaurants or attractions. However, it’s the small and often extremely busy village of Ksamil that’s perhaps most photographed, especially the little islands just off the coast. My advice? Hop in a car and detour down a more bumpy road to spend your days at one of the beaches between the two, such as Shpella-Pëllumbave, where there will likely be less footfall. Plus, having a car will allow you to explore some of Albania’s other experiences, like the Ottoman architecture of Berat or hiking in the soaring mountains.

A beautiful beach and private island in Fiji seen from above.
Whichever of Fiji’s islands you end up at, the shores are sure not to disappoint


Why and when? The Fijian archipelago is one of the best beach destinations in the South Pacific. Some 300-plus islands, plus many more sandbars, are scattered across the shimmering waters, offering island escapes for all budgets. The best season to visit Fiji is generally considered May until late September, as this is when the climate is most reliable, but for a good balance of accommodation deals and decent weather, consider May or perhaps even October. You’ll find even better prices in the low season between November and April, but rain and storms are more common during these months. 

Where to stay for the best beaches? Viti Levu is Fiji’s main island and the gateway to the archipelago. Here, the resort-heavy Denarau Island or the main city of Nadi allow for day trips to some of the spectacular nearby islands, as the closer beaches aren’t the best. Castaway Island is arguably one of the most magnificent private island resorts I have visited, where the powdery soft sands slope down to coral reefs and shallow waters. If you don’t mind going further, the Yasawa Islands are a true escape, and booking an island-hopping trip will bring you to some of the most idyllic beaches on the planet. And when you’re tired of typical sands, you can step up your ocean cocktail experience at Cloud 9, one of Fiji’s floating bars.

World's Best Beach Destinations showing an image of Albania and Fiji
Pin it: 9 of the world’s best beach destinations
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