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?
I love the list!! You’ve indeed been everywhere 🙂 You’ve only made my desire of going to Albania stronger with this post. I am flying to the Philippines this winter (well winter here.. February) and I am so, so excited. 😀 Never knew that the ocean in Zanzibar was so gorgeous.. The one in Algarve; I’ve always been doubtful if the water is crystal clear like you find in Greece? 🙂 The water in Capri looks clearer than I had imagined too!
I grew up in Nepal (landlocked!!) and am obsessed with beaches now. I’ve seen some very cool beaches, but they’re mostly centered around Europe..The ones in Cyprus, Malta, Greece and Croatia come at the top of my list. 🙂 I’ve not been to any beaches in France or Italy. And the cold Baltic sea beaches in Poland and Finland that I regularly visited don’t even count, because I am particular about the shade and clarity of water. 🙂
Def head to Albania when you can. It’s a unique travel destination and still very affordable. You could head down to Dhermi and even go paragliding off Llogara for just 50 euros. 🙂
Zanzibar had some of the most beautiful water I’ve ever seen, but the touts truly were very aggressive! The water in parts of Italy is really gorgeous, but the country’s beaches are pretty crowded. 🙁 But I do need to make an updated list, because since then, we’ve been to Maldives, and the water there was just to die for, as you’d expect!
Enjoy your time in the Philippines! Which islands are you visiting?
Ohh great, there are no budget flights to Albania from EU at the moment, but a way to get there is on a boat ride from Greek island Corfu 🙂 Albania has been on my radar for quite a while now 🙂
Maldives.. wow yes! You should do some posts about it 🙂
We’re going to Palawan, probably most of our time in El Nido there and maybe we’ll go to nearby Linapacan island group from El Nido in Palawan. They all look heavenly! 😀
There are a few posts on Maldives up on the blog already – we did it semi-budget and it was so so amazing. Def some of the best beaches in the world for sure. 🙂
Pingback: My Perfect Beach: Agios Prokopios | Travel-Stained
Fantastic list! Thank you for including Boracay in the Philippines at #6. You should try to go to Coron or El Nido in Palawan. It has amazing beaches too. Ooops, don’t forget Cebu as well (but I have yet to go there next). Thanks for sharing. Happy and Safe travels. 🙂
Yes, we definitely want to spend more time exploring different parts of the Philippines! There are so many different islands to choose from, it’s almost overwhelming to think about. Have heard so many amazing things about Palawan, we surely need to get there as soon as possible! 😀
That’s great! Same here! Wish to visit all 81 provinces in the Philippines while I still can, physically. 🙂
Reblogged this on The EndPoint Business Blog.
Awesome list! I wish to be in one of them by now – it doesn’t matter which one, I trust your recommendation! 🙂
You must’ve been on quite a few beaches yourself! I’d love to know which ones are your favourites… 🙂
I always have difficulties in choosing the top beach as my list – I keep changing my mind 😀 😀
Reblogged this on Adriana Kuprešak .
Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Out of time but very very nice post. You also made me crave for complete warm weather. The Greece shower is on and off. Still cold even while the sun is out. I already know you take really really good beach photos, but by gracious heavens!, seeing it all together looks real real “cool”. Nice to know Boracay still made the list given it being too commercialized and touristy. Loved Capri.
Boracay WAS really touristy, but the beach and water was just outta this world! I wish we’d had better weather while we were there. I’d really like to explore other parts of Philippines more though, to get a more local feeling. I’m sure there must be so many more stunning beaches than Boracay, there. Do you think you’ll make it out to that beach in Naxos while you’re in Greece? I’d love to see what you think of it… 🙂
I’m not fussy, as long as there is beach and water, I’m contented…:)
You are easy to please! 😉 I’m afraid I’ve gotten quite fussy over the years…I think one of the places I’ve been most disappointed with is the Red Sea outside of Dahab. It was full of so many plastic bags and garbage, it was depressing. 🙁
Hahaha but yes, that would put a damper on my enjoyment too..ok, I’ve revised my requirements: have beach, water and be relatively clean…? if only budget airlines to n from seoul are cheaper..u can come over more often and I can fly over more often too..win win..hehehe…?
I’m usually not much of a beach person, but I really enjoyed the beaches in Hawaii! All these sunny pictures are really making me want to escape Chicago right now…
The beaches in Hawaii are really gorgeous. I especially liked the ones in Maui. Actually, I never used to be a beach person either, but then I married someone from the Mediterranean, and he showed me how to appreciate it properly. Now, I crave the beach in a way I never did before. 🙂
Jeff | Planet Bell
I agree with you about the Greek beaches. Not only do you have the clear, blue water and soft white sand, but they are usually backed by rugged mountains. I’ll take any beach on western Crete to go to now.
I’ve heard so many great things about Crete, I definitely need to get there one day soon. Gah!! There are so many stunning Greek Islands to choose from, I think I could spend a lifetime exploring them.
If you do plan to come here this year, you know you have a place to stay… and a driver to take you around. 😉 … Just not a cook to serve you food. 😛 😀 But of course, that can easily be remedied. 😉 🙂
OMG, Greece is always top of my summer travel wish list!! and hearing this makes it even more tempting! If I can make it happen, you’ll be hearing from me Rommel. 😀 BTW, you know the same applies if you ever make it out this way… I can’t promise to make you bibimbap, but I know an excellent place to get it. 😉
I’ve been itching to get to the beach these days: we’ve had at least three to four days out of the week filled with snow in Maine, and four consecutive days forecasted for tomorrow through Tuesday. It sounds like you’ve gotten to some great ones! I haven’t been many tropical places, but, from what I remember, Bermuda’s pink sand beaches are some great ones.
The snow on that side of North America has been crazy lately. Last year, Toronto was hit by crazy ice storms and power outages. Nuts. But um… pink sand beaches?? I’m gonna have to look into that… 😉
Ami (Yearful of Sundays)
Tempting list, and such great pics! 🙂 Now I’ve a severe case of beach-longing…
Thanks Ami! 😀 My beach-longing is a hungry beast that is never satisfied… I think I shall have to feed it soon. 😉
I completely agree about Lagos! One of my favorite beaches, but the water was so chilly. I live in Thailand so I am a bit partial to those, but I also saw some beautiful beaches in Curaçao. I would love to visit all of these beaches though! I am pinning this for planning our future travels. 🙂
You’re so lucky to live in Thailand and have such easy access to so many wonderful beaches! 🙂 For us, here in Seoul, it’s at least a 3-4 hour flight to get to a good one! Which Thai beach is your favourite?
I’d really like to get back to Portugal again to explore some other areas…maybe even the Azores. Lol for that matter, I’d like to get to Curaçao and the whole Caribbean too…but alas, it would’ve been much easier when we lived in Canada!
I agree! It was always our dream to live in Thailand and we finally made it happen.
That’s a difficult question… there are so many beaches that I love. I will just give my favorite that I have been to here in Phuket, that will be a little easier to narrow it down. My favorite (right now… changes with the seasons) is Nai Yang beach. It is on the northwest side of the island and is quiet, clean, and pretty calm water. It’s not the most beautiful, but it is my favorite by far. It is an hour from our house and I happily drive there. 🙂
There are so many other places that I would like to explore more or for the first time. It is funny how when you are traveling the world seems so small, but when you stop it feels almost impossible to start again.
Great list ! I live in the Philippines yet i didn’t visit boracay but maybe soon. Its almost summer here in our country and beach are best place to enjoy holidays 🙂
Ahhh, I’m jealous that you live so close to all the beautiful beaches of the Philippines! 🙂 White Beach is truly stunning, but I’m anxious to visit Palawan and Bohol also.
I live in Cebu and Bohol is just 15-30 minutes if you travel by boat but I haven’t visit Bohol yet and actually never been into any island in my country but maybe soon I’ll be a tourist in my own country and explore every places and towns which is stated in my bucketlist 🙂
Oh, you must go! and report back. There are so many amazing places close to you, I think it would be very easy to be a tourist in your own country. Isn’t it funny how we’re so lazy about exploring the places closest to us? I’m terrible at traveling around Korea, but have no problem taking a 12 hour flight to Europe. 😉
Not one Aussie beach! We have the best of all!
I wish I knew some Aussie beaches to put on the list, but unfortunately I haven’t visited Australia yet!! 🙁 I’m very sad about it, and will remedy the situation one day. I’ve seen so many pics of gorgeous beaches in Oz, I have no doubt that at least a few of them would end up on this list! 😀
Yes Shelley you must visit, it’s a vast and varied land, so much to see and do that’s unique
We really want to!! but we’re waiting until we have a good chunk of time to explore properly. I think we need a minimum of 1 month to even scratch the surface… 🙂
12 months to see the whole continent!!
I just wrote a whiny post about being cold last week. You had the better idea to not whine but get your mind elsewhere! Thank you – I feel better already!
Lol…I feel better and I feel worse at the same time. Thank goodness the sun is shining today, or I would’ve had to book a plane ticket. 😉
Great list! Despite the cold waters, there is no beach I love more than the beaches on Block Island, Rhode Island.
Thanks Amanda! I haven’t spent nearly enough time exploring America. Definitely need to do that one day, hopefully on a road trip in an RV. 😀
Oh, the Places We See
What? You left off Pawleys Island, South Carolina? Surely not. (Great list, by the way!)
Lol… clearly I need to get myself to Pawleys Island in South Carolina! It must be quite the beach! 🙂
Great pictures bro!
I’ll pass your comment onto my hubby. 😉 Hard to take a bad pic on those beaches.
Great list! I might steal this idea for my own blog. 😉 For me, my favourite beach so far is Kommetjie Beach in South Africa.
Hey Cherrie! I would love to see your list of best beaches! There are so many amazing beaches in the world, I’m always curious to find out about new ones to add to my list of ones to visit. 🙂