It’s 2017 and it’s time to set some #beachgoals. But where is the most breathtakingly beautiful seaside patch of paradise in the world? While discovering secret beaches with no name can often be the most idyllic, don’t discount the tried and tested bays famous for their picture-perfect looks.
If, like us, your New Year’s resolution includes making time for more adventures, then here are some tropical destinations to daydream about while you decide where to go to on your next trip.
Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi
Hidden behind a curve of cliffs, this pristine beach slowly reveals itself as you approach by boat. Maya Bay is a dreamy, sandy setting and its beauty has been confirmed by its role in the ultimate backpacking adventure film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, The Beach.
Being chosen as the beach that features in a film of the same name is a bit of a giveaway – spoiler alert: it’s beautiful. But you probably already knew that. Backed by tropical green jungle, this natural wonderland is protected with a National Park status. It has all the ingredients for beach perfection, including fluffy golden sands that feel like silk underfoot and vibrantly coloured sea.
The only drawback is that access is restricted to tour boat timetables and you’ll have to factor in crowds of other visitors into your view. But it’s a small price to pay for paradise, right?
Paradise lost: Tourists. Lots of tourists. Hire a water taxi to avoid peak visiting times.
Paradise found: It’s the beach from The Beach.
If soft white sands blending into stunningly blue waters weren’t enough, the bohemian beach of Tulum is also watched over by a collection of magnificent Mayan ruins.
The crumbling ancient temple site is majestically perched on the edge of a cliff, providing sensational views over the bay, as iguanas scurry across the manicured green lawns and in between the stone ruins.
Down on the beach, the laidback pace is complimented with a scattering of chilled beach bar shacks backed by palm trees. The crystaline sea is full of colourful wildlife and is great for scuba diving. There are also several magical underwater caves, called cenotes, to explore nearby too.
Paradise lost: There can be strong currents so check conditions before swimming.
Paradise found: A Mayan archaeological site with a spectacular beachside backdrop.
One of the prettiest beaches on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, it’s a picture-perfect setting. With so many sensational beaches to choose from in Hawaii, it’s hard to single out just one. But I’ve chosen Kailua for its relaxed beach town vibe, idyllic scenery and calm, clear waters.
Unlike the the crashing waves that come tumbling onto the North Shore beaches, Kailua beach looks onto more tranquil tides, punctuated by a couple of peaked rocks emerging from the surface in the distance. Thanks to the way it catches the onshore Trade Winds however, it’s a popular spot for windsurfing.
Paddle boards drift by as swimmers snorkel among the corals, alongside sea turtles. You might even spot one of the hefty Hawaiian monk seals sunbathing on the shore while you’re there too.
Paradise lost: Local Hawaiian monk seals are an endangered species.
Paradise found: The kind of Hawaiian tropic dreams are made of.
Padang Padang, Bali
A narrow, winding path of steps carved into the cliffs leads the way down onto Padang Padang beach. The relatively small sandy cove is hugged by high rocky cliffs and dotted with boulders that weave together to form archways and caves along the sea’s edge. It’s great for exploring and finding a little shade in the intense heat while sipping on a fresh coconut water straight from the husk.
When conditions are right, a steady flow of smooth, clean waves peal across the reefs from the left. It draws experienced surfers from far and wide.
The back of the beach is lined with a handful of market stalls selling jewellery and sarongs. While the whole scene is looked over by a throng of mischievous monkeys lurking around the back cliffs that will steal your beach snacks in the blink of an eye.
Paradise lost: Keep an eye on those cheeky monkeys!
Paradise found: Intriguing caves and rocks to explore.
West Coast, Gili Trawangan
Gili Trawangan has no shortage of sandy stretches, whether you want to while away lazy days or soak up the beautiful scenery with a selection of outdoor activities. However, as sunset approaches, everyone heads to the length of beach that lies along the west coast of the Indonesian island.
Spectacular sunsets light up the sky as the sun floats down and settles behind the silhouette of Bali out in the distance. Hotel beach bars provide the refreshments and bean bags to relax on as you take in the views.
One of the main attractions are the sea swings where you can whoosh over the water while watching the colour show, and get a great picture for your Instagram profile while you’re at it.
Paradise lost: You might need to queue to have a go on one of the swings.
Paradise found: Spectacular sunsets with sea swings.
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