Where are the world’s best beaches?

By Issy D’Arcy Clark for High Life magazine

Photography by Getty

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Updated November 2018

It’s one of the questions that travel experts get asked most, so we thought we’d ask our own global panel of holiday pros where they think the best beaches are around the globe. Here’s the lowdown on the top seven.

Costa Rica

“Playa Grande’s sandy stretches are the nesting ground of the leatherback, the world’s largest turtle, while crocodiles bask on the sandbanks of the Rio Matapalo estuary. Hire a kayak to explore the mangroves beyond the black sands of Playa Carbon.” - Alex Wade, surfing writer.

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“Along the beaches of Tulum are rainforest cenotes – craters you can swim in. Each has a different Mayan story behind it, filled with demons and sea monsters rising from the tunnel.” - Fabien Cousteau, ocean conservationist.

Book a stay at Cancun’s Occidental Allegro Playacar

  • Boulders Beach, South Africa © Getty Images

    Protected penguins

    Boulders Beach near Simon’s Town falls under the Table Mountain National Park meaning the beaches are clean and the sheltered bays are ideal for swimming (and penguin spotting!).

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  • Miami Beach, Florida, USA © Wasin Pummarin / 123rf

    Treasure trove

    Pirates used to visit the area to bury their treasure. Gasparilla, Lafitte and Blackbeard were all regular visitors.

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  • Surf’s up in Costa Rica © Ian McDonnell / Getty

    Did you know…

    Costa Rica has 1,290km of coastline, on both the North Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea – so there are plenty of opportunities to catch waves. Playa Tamarindo is the most famous, but serious surfers head to Playa Pavones, home to one of the longest rides in the world.

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Costa Rica has 1,290km of coastline, on both the North Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea – so there are plenty of opportunities to catch waves.

New York

“Coney Island has an almost 100-year-old boardwalk and a wonderful aquarium. Jones Beach Island and Fire Island are also nearby.” - Fabien Cousteau, ocean conservationist.

Explore New York’s best beaches >


“You can’t beat Miami Beach for sports. There’s so much available, such as fishing, diving and sailing. It’s a unique and fun place.” - Jade Jagger, jewellery designer.

Hire a car and visit Clearwater near Tampa – voted TripAdvisors’ number one beach in the USA – which is a five-hour road trip from Miami Beach.


“The West Coast beaches of Barbados are sheltered by the Caribbean – a playground with watersports, snorkelling and lots of safe swimming for younger children. Families with older kids should check out Barbados’s lesser-known Atlantic Coast – head for stunning Crane Beach for excellent surf that packs a punch.” - Luke Dillon, the UK’s highest ranked surfer.

Stay at The Crane Resort for pure beachside luxury >

  • Crane Beach, Barbados © Alamy

    Body boarding bay

    Originally built as a harbour, Barbados’s Crane Beach is perfect for catching the surf or some rays, with its powerful waves and blissful white sand. Relax for a seven-night holiday including hotels and flights from London to Barbados.

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“Ashwem beach is one of my favourite places to be with my family. There’s great food, and the water is gentle, shallow and always warm. We love to walk along the wonderful, wide sands, with little rock pools to stop and dip our toes in. I also have a shop there, right on the beach.” - Jade Jagger, jewellery designer.

South Africa

“Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town (near Cape Town) has penguins!” - Helen Scales, marine biologist.

Hire a car and drive the Garden Route from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth to take in the beaches of Hermanus and Plettenburg Bay.