Best of the Beach: Our Top 10
Grey, uninspired and blah. That’s how I’m feeling lately, and sadly, the sky outside completely mirrors my mood.
It’s usually no problem for me to get through Korea’s off and on brutally cold 3 month winter. After all, I grew up in Canada, the land of truly never-ending, torturous winters. Usually, we get ourselves onto a beach in the middle of it all, but this year, we missed it and I’m definitely feeling it.
I’m craving sand between my toes, crystal blue waters, the smell of the sea and coconut shakes condensing in my hand. But since an excursion to paradise isn’t in the cards anytime soon, I’ll have to settle for a little trip down memory lane, just to survive.
And while remembering all the amazing beaches we’ve had the privilege of visiting isn’t the same as actually visiting those beaches, I’m hoping that it might trigger some kind of primal flashback, and I’ll feel as revitalized as if I HAD spent a whole week basking in the sun.
We’ve visited sandy utopias all over the world, and deciding exactly which beach I’d call the best isn’t easy. Is it the one with the most stunning water I’ve ever seen? or the world famous one written about in song? Or perhaps, I should choose the hippie-ish one that will always remind me of our first trip to Thailand? The perfect beach isn’t just about golden sand, superb coastlines and cloudless skies – there also has to be a certain vibe and feeling. It’s hard to put into words, but trust me, when you’ve landed on the consummate beach, you know it.
10. Ipanema, Brazil
So, you know this list is gonna be good, when the worst of it is Ipanema, right? 😉
This crescent shaped stretch of sand in Rio’s Zona Sul attracts masses of sun worshippers and surfers. Though it’s smaller and no more beautiful than the equally famous Cocacabana, we spent most of our time in Rio passed out on Ipanema Beach.
9. Jale Beach, Albania
During Communist times, Jale used to be a retreat for party officials, and it’s evident by the bloc-like buildings that sit high above the pristine waters of Jale Bay. Along with concrete bunkers that line the coastline, they’re a minor distraction from the brilliant blue of the Ionian Sea…but not much.
8. Lagos, Portugal
In the Algarve region of Portugal, you can climb up, through and between rock formations to find a private beach all your own. Something I would happily do again, along with a visit to the cliffside Cafe do Mar for chilled out tunes and the freshest baby calamari I’ve ever had.
It takes the 8th spot on our list because the water was just a little bit too brisk for my taste.
7. Ko Nang Yuan, Thailand
You’ve probably seen photos of this place, without realizing that it’s in Thailand. Uniquely gorgeous with 3 peaks connected by a sliver of sandbar, Nang Yuan also has some of the most amazingly clear water I’ve ever seen on my travels.
It isn’t higher on our list, because prices on Ko Nang Yuan are 3 to 4 times more than on nearby Ko Tao, a mere 15 minute boat ride away.
6. Boracay, Philippines
We visited the Philippines during Chinese New Year, and were stunned by the pristine beauty of Boracay’s White Beach (but not the hordes of tourists). The combination of a wide swath of powdery white sand and water so vivid, it was blinding, was almost beyond belief.
Unfortunately, most of our week was marred by cloudy skies, or I’m sure Boracay would be much higher on this list.
5. Capri, Italy
The Italian island of Capri has been so romanticized in books and movies, that I couldn’t wait to see it for myself. Fortunately, it did not disappoint. The houses perched precariously above the deep blue of the Tyrrhenian Sea, are nothing less than spellbinding.
Though most of Capri was super touristy and overpriced, walking along the huge boulders that dot it’s coastline and diving into it’s crisp water was completely free.
4. Badija Island, Croatia
We spent a blissful week on Korcula, but our day trip to Badija Island is what I remember most. Badija was so deserted that it was easy to find an isolated spot from which to enjoy the immaculate expanse of sea before us. It was also the perfect place to try out the Croatian habit of nude sunbathing and swimming (totally a convert), but that’s a story for another post. 😉
3. Haad Yuan, Koh Phangan, Thailand
Haad Yuan Beach is a 20 minute long tail boat ride and a world away from Haad Rin – home of Thailand’s infamous Full Moon Parties. Where Haad Rin is noise, drunk tourists and total hedonism, Haad Yuan is a peaceful oasis accessible only by boat. There are no ATMs and last time I was there, there was no wifi either.
Bungalows are connected via a series of perilous wooden walkways balanced atop the giant boulders that line the beach. Despite the tiny jellyfish that plague the water and the lack of any midrange accommodation options (it’s either budget hut or the totally out of place Centara Resort there), Haad Yuan is still the one place I equate with Thai beach perfection.
2. Nungwi Beach, Zanzibar
The waters off the coast of Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean are the most bewilderingly gorgeous I’ve ever seen. With sparkling seas that changed from turquoise to green to blue in the blink of an eye, I literally spent most of the day just staring at it in total awe.
The only reason this beach isn’t top of the list is because of the unfortunate number of very aggressive touts that marred that wondrous view.
1. Agios Prokopios Beach, Naxos, Greece
I’m pretty certain the Greek Islands are the most ideal summer destination in the world, and Agios Prokopios Beach in Naxos is my favourite of them, so far. It’s idyllic champagne coloured beach is backed by a street full of tavernas serving delectable local dishes, and the sea is so clean and clear, it feels like a swimming pool.
I could easily spend weeks upon weeks just basking under the glow of the flawless Mediterranean sun on that beach. I wish I was there right now, ice cold frappe in hand. One can dream, right?
Is there a beach you wish you were on right now? What are your favourite beaches in the world?