In addition to being a ton of fun, water sports get you outdoors in the fresh air, and better yet, in the water. Even an ordinary beach is a great place to be, but beaches are also some of the most beautiful places on earth. You won’t believe some of these spots, but after you see them, you’ll be sure to add them to your list of places you must go before you die.
Whitehaven Beach – Whitsunday Island, Australia
Australia boasts over 10,000 beaches along its shores, with amazing stretches so long, you don’t have to tangle with crowds to get some space on the sand. We could easily fill a dozen pages with Australia’s beaches alone, but for now we’ll just call your attention to Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island, where the word “crazy” comes to mind when trying to describe the unique beauty of the beaches.
Super-fine sediment is suspended in the water there, scattering the light and creating the aquamarine color of the water, and the silica sand on the beach is also extremely fine, which results in the striping and swirling look of the water along the beach.
Honokalani Black Sand Beach – Wai'anapanapa State Park, Maui, Hawaii
There’s no reef outside Pa’iloa Bay, so the current is dangerous here, and swimming is not recommended, but the black sands are gorgeous enough to make this spot worth a visit. The shore is made up of lava sand, and lies between the beautiful deep blue of the Pacific Ocean and dense jungle-like growth giving it the feel of a mysterious tropical island.
You may not be able to get in the water, but the park offers great hiking, a cave to explore, and fascinating lava tubes and sea caves that you can see.
Praia Mole – Florianopolis, Brazil
The city of Florianopolis is one of the biggest cities in southern Brazil and has many lovely beaches, but Praia Mole is truly outstanding. It’s about ten miles from the city (technically the city comprises the entire island—but we mean ten miles from the intensely inhabited part) and is one of the most consistent for year-round surfing conditions. The beach itself is over a thousand yards of white sand surrounded by lush vegetation and huge rocks on the north end that are worth exploring. Florianopolis is a very attractive part of the country and has become very popular in recent years. The beaches within the city are quite crowded, and many people comment that they enjoy Praia Mole because it isn’t as crowded. You can walk a little further down the beach to find the less crowded section, but be prepared: it’s a nude beach, so unless that’s your thing, you might not want to wander there.
Muriwai Beach – Auckland, New Zealand
Muriwai is most famous for its gannet colony, but Muriwai Beach itself is equally impressive. From August through March, about 1,200 pairs of gannets nest here, covering the rocks and parts of the shore. It’s also a popular surfing area, but the safe area is marked by flags, and water activities are restricted to that zone, so you’ll need to pay attention to where you go. The black sands and bright blue ocean make Muriwai a remarkable place to surf, sun, and hike. The coastline is rugged, and if you take the hike along the cliff top trail to Bethell’s Beach, you will see why the area is referred to as Auckland’s wild west coast.
White Beach – Boracay, Philippines
The Philippines is a country that consists of approximately 7,640 islands located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, so it’s no wonder there are amazing beaches there. Many of them. White Beach is one of the most stunning and has crystal clear shallow water, so is very popular for snorkeling and scuba diving. Make this a summer or fall destination, though, because algal bloom is an issue from December through May. White Beach is three miles of powdery white sand on the west side of the island, and is known for mindblowing sunsets. It’s located right in the city, so there’s a lot to do there after dark as well because Boracay has a lively night life.
Matira Beach – Bora Bora, French Polynesia
The most famous of all the amazing Polynesian beaches may be Matira Beach, and for good reason: it’s certainly one of the most beautiful in the world. It consists of a mile-long stretch of clean, soft, white sand that is popular for sunbathing and spending the day relaxing. For those who like to get a little more action in, it’s a fantastic spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. Most beaches in Bora Bora are not public, in fact, Matira is one of the very few that are, so it provides a rare opportunity to enjoy recreation with the local people. The down side is that it doesn’t have the overwater bungalows that the private beach resorts offer.
Boulders Beach – Cape Town, South Africa
Boulders Beach is aptly named, not for a few big rocks at the ends, or here and there, but for massive boulders that almost cover the shore. To be honest, unless you like rocks, you won’t think it’s a beautiful beach at all, but there is a reason it made the list of beaches you’ll want to visit—penguins! There’s a resident colony of African penguins (formerly known as jackass penguins, in less culturally-sensitive times) that lives there and they’ll be right on the beach with you. It is part of the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area, so there’s an admission charge and the number of people who are allowed is controlled, meaning it isn’t usually crowded. Oh, and there are over 2,000 of the endangered birds in the colony, so a visit to Boulders Beach isn’t likely to be another whale-watching, think-we-saw-something-in-the-distance wildlife fail!
We’d love for this article to inspire you to head out for some international travel, but if that’s not in the future for you, there are still a lot of gorgeous beaches right here in the U.S. What’s the most beautiful beach you’ve been to?