We love beaches, despite their many inconveniences. A beach always feels like the ultimate escape. Why? Is it an evolutionary hangover? Are we returning to our ancient origins as creatures-crawled-out- of-the-ocean? Or did we develop our desire for the beach alongside our need for the food that the ocean provides? Is it the sound of the waves, which science says has a calming effect on our brain activity? Maybe it’s the guaranteed hit of vitamin D our exposed skin absorbs.
We could speculate all day. Except that brings us no closer to the beach. And at the beach, there’ll be no speculation; we’ll be in the moment. So go! Find a beach. Go now. Don’t wonder why. You know it’s the right thing to do.
- Agonda Beach / Goa, India
Agonda Beach is perfect really. Actually, it’s not the perfect swimming beach; the high tide conceals steep drop-offs and the surf gets a bit unruly. But don’t take that the wrong way: you can certainly still wade in and have a swim!
Not that we’re aware of, but watch out for the olive ridley turtles – there’s a nesting site and a protection centre that looks after this vulnerable species.
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So what is it perfect for?
Romantic walks along its simple beauty – it’s a wide, open beach and really is very pretty. At sunset, it has that extra special something. It’s relatively quiet and isolated, though not far from more touristy action if you need some of that. It’s got that really cool, relaxed vibe to it, without it being in the middle of nowhere.
Koh Kood (Koh Kut) / Trat Province, Thailand
It’s true that there’s no shortage of choice when it comes to beautiful beaches and stunning tropical islands in Thailand, but it is rare to find one that retains some of that elusive undiscovered vibe. You won’t have the island to yourself but we can guarantee you won’t be sharing it with 700 backpacking mates. This is a more family-friendly place with little night life to speak of.
If you feel the need to break up the tedious routine of lying around on a private beach on a tropical island then consider a hike to one of the spectacular waterfalls and swimming holes. Klong Chao is the largest of all the falls and sometimes has tour groups visiting in the afternoons. Klong Yai Ki is smaller and quieter.
3. Nalaguraidhoo Beach / South Ari Atoll, The Maldives
It’s true, there isn’t a ‘best beaches’ list worth its salt that doesn’t include one from around here, so picking the best of the bunch is a really tough exercise. If the jaw-droppingly gorgeous, cyan-hued seas of Nalaguraidhoo don’t float your boat then jump aboard an inter-island water ferry and find your own slice of paradise.
More about the beautiful Nalaguraidhoo
If a picture tells a thousand words then the photo of Nalaguraidhoo just keeps saying ‘paradise’ over and over. You could lie forever staring at the azure waters surrounding your private thatched villa or get up close to the sea life snorkelling or diving around the reefs.
There’s no getting around the fact that a luxury locale like this comes with a hefty price tag. The Maldives is not a place renowned for being a budget-traveller mecca; it might be that you’ll have to save your pennies for a visit to this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
4. Wayag Beach / Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia
If you love life under the sea, then this is where you will want to be. Pulau Wayag is one of the many small islands in the Raja Ampat archipelago. The stunning atolls and striking karst (limestone) formations make for fabulous snorkelling and deep sea diving with the rocks supporting an enormous amount of sea life.
After a day of diving, relax at the hotel?
Dream on. This is a remote archipelago with very few facilities and that’s part of its charm. Most visitors to Wayag choose to base themselves on a live-aboard – a small cruise boat that provides food and board and drops anchor wherever you want to explore next.
5. White Beach / Boracay, Philippines
In a crowded field for title of most ridiculously perfect beach, White Beach makes a bold statement of intent. You want to be here? Of course you do.
What makes it so stunning is that you will not be alone and it’s quite commercial and developed, yet you’ll feel like it’s all yours. And you can do almost anything you want here. White Beach is the centre of the action, its 6km of super-soft sand and aqua waters are home to water sports of every flavour. Diving is almost a must: if you haven’t done scuba before, this would be an ideal place to get wet.
Feeling a special connection?
Well maybe a full-moon beach party is on the cards then: you can get in touch with your spiritual side at one of these monthly parties. And even if you’re not the party type, there’s a good chance that watching the sun set on this west-facing beach might also be a transcendental moment. It’s worth a shot anyway.