Petit St. Vincent, St. Vincent & The Grenadines

          A two-mile-long idyllic beach almost completely encircles this islet near Union Island. Petit St. Vincent has sand so cushy that guests risk sinking up to their piña coladas. Best Bed: The 113-acre island’s only occupant is the Petit St. Vincent Resort, whose 22 cottages are just secluded enough — some beachside, some Cliffside — to make this one of the most romantic spots on the planet, as well as one of the most private. 


White Beach, Boracay, Philippines

          This three-mile stretch of sand has the color and consistency of baby powder, and is one of the world’s classic beaches on which to mix with locals. From one end to the other, there’s a frenzy of life: hotels, bars, dive operators, windsurfing schools, massage stations, hair braiders, and scam artists of every description. 

Cocoa Island, Maldives

         It’s hard to go wrong in the Maldives, which has eighty-seven one-resort islands on its atolls, all with worthy beaches. Tiny Cocoa Island is virtually all beaches, all of it white sand, complemented by palms and a lagoon of tranquil sky-blue water. Cocoa Island resort has diving, small-boat sailing, and a spa. If that’s too much activity for you, they’ll drop you off on your own private beach, where you can remain blissfully isolated for as long as the sunscreen holds out.

7-Mile Beach, Negril, Jamaica

        There’s a reason — besides the glorious sunsets — that this seven-mile stretch on the west coast is a perennial favorite. Just the right mix of white sand, tranquil water, and enough beach life to keep you from getting bored after the first few hours of bliss. One-Love Factor: Visitors most easily mix with locals at Alfred’s, a beachy restaurant and bar with live reggae Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. If you are here to stay on the beach, Couples Swept Away is on a good section.

Lido, Venice, Italy

        The Lido was made forever famous by Thomas Mann’s novella “Death in Venice” and Visconti’s lush movie of the story. There are two enormous public beaches at each end of the island. In September, it hosts the prestigious Venice Film Festival, first held in 1932, where film stars arrive elegantly by boat or private plane. The Westin Excelsior and the Hotel des Bains – boast what is probably the world’s most expensive beach huts, which Venetians lease by the season for $10,000. Another the charming Albergo Quattro Fontane Hotel is more reasonable, and it has a good restaurant.

Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia

         When the Indonesians were looking for an ideal stretch of sand on which to build an enclave of upscale beach hotels, they chose Nusa Dua, in the southern part of the island, not far from the airport. The sand is white, the water is blue, and the hawkers remain notably absent. An exception to the massive scale of most of the hotels is the 35-suite Amanusa, sitting tranquilly on a hillside above the beach.

Porto Katsiki, Lefkas, Greece

        Little known even to Greeks, this ranks as one of the most perfect beaches in Europe — island or continent. Contained between two huge precipices of white, gold, and red limestone, the beach is a feast of contrasting textures. The central section is of the finest white pebbles, perfect for sunbathing, while huge rounded boulders provide shade. The sea here is a color found nowhere else — a solid turquoise that might have been poured directly from a can of paint. Tourist can stay in the nearby fishing village of Vassiliki or in Nidri, on the other side of the island. 

Sylt, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

          This quaint island resort has no fewer than 20 miles of sand dunes and its very own style of beach furniture, a three-seater basket that serves both as a windbreak and a territorial marker. Nudism is ubiquitous, particularly with the middle-aged liberal intelligentsia. Kampen is the most attractive tourist village, with easy access to beach and golf from the Rungholt Hotel.

Vatulele Island, Fiji

          From the moment you step barefoot out of the seaplane and wade ashore, you have no desire to wear shoes again until someone makes you get back on the plane — the half-mile stretch of sand is that soft. With the resort’s sunset-facing bures strung along the beach, there’s just one reason to wander away from the tide line: the excellent wine list. Vatulele is a real Fijian island, with four villages and coconut and taro farming.

One Foot Island, Aitutaki, Cook Islands

          This tiny uninhabited mote is one of the most photographed islets in the South Pacific, no doubt because it is everybody’s idea of what their island would look like if they were Robinson Crusoe — white sand, bending palm trees, azure water. The wide lagoon is so shallow you can walk to the next island at low tide. The two-year-old, eight-bungalow Etu Moana is right on the beach.

Lopes Mendes, Ilha Grande, Brazil

           Ilha Grande is just one of the 350-plus islands off Angra dos Reis, south of Rio. Its 22 beaches of soft white sand, however, make it the most alluring. With almost every one of its elements in just the right proportion, is the finest of the 22. Visitors can find simple accommodations at Sagu Mini Resort, overlooking a rocky cove.

Pink Sands, Harbour Island, Bahamas


          Whoever named this beautiful beach did not lie — the sand is pale pink. Better yet, it’s virtually deserted. Harbour Island itself is only four miles long, and the entire east coast is beach. A few palapas dot the sand in front of the few hotels, but otherwise this beach has nothing — no bars, no plastic chaise longues, no people hawking necklaces. It does have the Pink Sands hotel, where you can walk barefoot from your bed to the beach every morning for a pre-breakfast swim.

Whitsunday Isles, Whitehaven


        A perfect six-mile crescent of acacia forest protects a curve of wedding-white sand, forming perhaps the best beach in Australia — high praise, indeed. Strictly enforced national park rules allow only limited visits and no overnighting on land, so solitude is ensured.

Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

          More than 20 beaches of all shapes and sizes ring this quietly luxurious 40-unit single-resort island of great charm, 18 miles off Queensland’s coast. All guests get motorized dinghies so they can search for their favorite beach or reef. The kitchen is outstanding, and the huge marlin mounted in the main restaurant celebrates the island’s preoccupations: game fishing and scuba.

Anse Victorin, Fregate Island, Seychelles

           Some of the few who have actually gotten to it consider this among the world’s perfect beaches. There is soft sand; clear, tranquil water; a backdrop of palms and cliff; and a crescent beach 230 steps from end to end — a paradise which is all that, and often yours alone.

Palmetto Point Beach, Barbuda, Antigua and Barbuda

             The breathtaking seven-mile southwestern beach is totally unspoiled, possibly because this is one of the less charming Caribbean islands. Barbuda’s abundant shell-pink sands are one of its main exports. Coco Point Lodge lures WASPy families, some of whom have been returning for generations, while the new kid on the beach is the sleek, white, sexy Beach House, which has its own boat and lobster cookouts on the sand.

Beach No. 7, Havelock Island, Andaman Islands

           This nearly untouched, mile-plus sugar-white crescent, backed by the kind of hardwood forest you pray that makers of lawn furniture never hear about, is known simply by a number — proof that marketing people haven’t discovered the Andamans yet. The water lapping it has all the greens and blues of a December birthstone. The Barefoot at Havelock’s cottages and villas face the beach.

Baia do Sancho, Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

          Turquoise seas rolling into a secret cove of golden sand make this perhaps the most visually stunning beach in South America. The reward is a heaven of sand with no hotels, bars, or peddlers. Tourist can fly from Recife or Natal to Fernando de Noronha.

Cumberland Island, Georgia, United States

            For nearly a century, members of the Carnegie family owned most of Georgia’s largest sea island. The National Park System has since become an equally protective steward. Animals far outnumber people, with only 300 visitors allowed per day — about 18 per mile of beach. They’re in the Greyfield Inn, an old Carnegie manor where guests gather for superb dinners.

Shipwreck Beach, Zakynthos, Greece

          An Ionian Sea beach that would be worth the trip even without the centerpiece rusting hulk of a smuggling vessel embedded in the sand. Scooped out of a vertical wall of white rock, this is an idyllic and isolated beach.  The stone-walled Hotel Nobelos is five miles from the beach, in a lovely rural setting.

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