From the seclusion of a secret Grecian paradise to the crystalline waters of Thailand, our guide to the world’s best beaches.
PAMALICAN ISLAND, PHILIPPINES
The beach: stretches around the entire six and a half kilometre circumference of this private tropical island. One of the Philippines’ most exclusive retreats, Pamalican is surrounded on all sides by untouched stretches of powdery white sand and is accessible only by plane. From your boutique sun lounger at the island’s only hotel, Amanpulo, the cerulean sky merges with a turquoise sea inhabited by coral reef and turtles. The horizon interrupted only by the outline of other small islands in the archipelago. Here you can enjoy the pleasures of a paradisal wilderness and the world-class service of a luxury resort combined.
Best for: Exclusive castaway-luxe
Image: Amanpulo Resort
VAGIA, SERIFOS, GREECE
The beach: A far cry from the bustling energy of its nearby Cycladic neighbours Mykonos and Santorini, wannabe Athenian beach bums can find sanctuary from the crowds on the island of Serifos. Vagia, its most beautiful beach, was accessible only by foot until very recently – its soft sandy shores and crystal blue waters enjoyed only by those willing and able to make the pilgrimage. Now, luxury eco-hotel Coco-Mat will pick you up from the island’s port to make the short drive through picturesque villages and ancient fishing ports to the beach. The craggy cliffs of the bay provide a natural shelter from the Aegean summer winds, making it a coastal haven that retains its sense of untouched intimacy.
Best for: Rustic eco-chic off the beaten track
Image: Coco-Mat Eco Residences Serifos
SOUTH BEACH, MIAMI, USA
The beach: One of the most photographed beaches in the world, South Beach Miami is hot, glamorous and steamy – just like the pictures. Flanked on one side by the iconic Art Deco buildings of Ocean Drive and on the other by an endless stretch of Atlantic Ocean, the beautiful people flock here every summer to experience its inimitable combination of cosmopolitan living and laid-back vibes. Stay at W South Beach Hotel, a luxurious retreat on the beach steps away from the vibrant energy of Collins Avenue. You’ll find off-duty A-listers lounging on their oceanfront cabanas before following the siren call of the disco ball to the Wall Lounge nightclub for a Miami night out.
Best for: Hedonism and fast cars
Image: W South Beach Hotel
The beach: Emerging from the lush, verdant jungle, Sayulita is a sleepy beach town on the West coast of Mexico at the base of the Sierra Madre mountains. A boho mecca for the surfing community and in-the-know travellers, its palm-fringed beach is piled with the boards of the local schools and the ocean dotted with surfers catching green waves in the Mexican sunshine. Palapa-thatched eateries serve up fresh fish tacos with warming salsa and the beachfront bars specialise in fiery tequila cocktails and smoky mezcal. Still a relative secret, we wager that this humble little town will one day be the fash pack’s new Tulum.
Best for: Laid-back bliss in the sun
Image: Via Pinterest
PINK SANDS, HARBOUR ISLAND, THE BAHAMAS
The beach: A regular in the world’s most beautiful beach hotlists, Pink Sands on the Caribbean’s Harbour Island is elegant and magical. A feeling of old-world glamour hangs in the air, with Colonial-style architecture and modern luxury fusing at the island’s small boutique resorts. The sand is unimaginably, perfectly pink, the gentle breeze salty with the sea, and as the sun sets the sea and sand glow coral in the dusky light. The island has retained a leisurely Bahamian pace of life and is relatively understated compared to nearby St Barth’s and Mustique. There’s a reason Diane von Furstenberg has built a home here.
Best for: Boutique island life
Image: The Dunmore
KOH KRADAN, THAILAND
The beach: Is endlessly long and unspoilt with low tide sand bars and fine white sand lapped by the crystal clear waters of the Andaman Sea. Lush tropical vegetation strung with hammocks and makeshift swings borders the beach, and the horizon is punctuated by dramatic limestone outcrops. Part national park, part resort, Koh Kradan is nearby Koh Lanta’s idyllic little sister. Bathe in the warm shallow waters or take a longtail for snorkelling at the islets of Ko Waen and Ko Chueak. Here you can dine on the most deliciously aromatic Thai food (fish grills and curry) in the shade of palm and rubber trees. Paradise.
Best for: Tranquillity in the tropics
Image: The Seven Seas Resort Koh Kradan