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Most Beautiful Beaches in the World


Diane

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Saud Beach, Luzon, Philippines

 

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If you're searching for Southeast Asian beach bliss, super-mellow Saud Beach on the island of Luzon is a sure thing. Its white sand pitches gradually into the clear-as-glass water, like a real-world example of a zero-entry swimming pool. Swim in the peaceful waves, lunch under a thatch-roof cabana under the palms, or hire an outrigger for excursions on the water.

 

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Elafonissi Beach, Crete, Greece

 

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Elafonissi Beach's immense popularity comes from its pretty pinkish sand, warm lagoon-like waters, and very wild feel. Elafonissi Beach is actually an island, separated from the mainland by the shallow water and sandbars that only disappear under about three feet of water at high tide. Facilities are limited to palapa-covered sun loungers and a handful of tavernas for fresh seafood. If Elafonissi is too packed, try Balos Lagoon in the north.

 

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Nungwi Beach, Tanzania


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Located in a buzzing fishing village of the same name on Zanzibar Island, Nungwi Beach is one of Tanzania's most-hyped attractions. A big part of the appeal is Nungwi's fantastic coral sand, which seems to emit a pale, otherworldly glow. Pristine, easy-swimming water, craggy rocks, and lovely sunsets dipping below the dhow-dotted sea complete the picture. With hype comes commerce: The area has a heavy concentration of restaurants, beach vendors, bars, resorts, and outfitters for water sports and excursions (deep-sea fishing, sunset cruises, and trips to the incredible Nakupenda Beach sandbank off of Stone Town are especially popular).
 

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Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii

 

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Long before Hollywood put it on the tourist map (first with "South Pacific" in 1958, then "The Descendants" half a century later), Hanalei Bay attracted locals for its near-mystical beauty. Its string of beaches — Wai'oli, Hanalei Pavilion, and Black Pot — is framed by jade-colored mountains hurtling 4,000 feet high. The area is popular with surfers in the winter, when the waves pick up size and speed.

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Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


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Perhaps the most famous beach in the world, glam Copacabana Beach has just about everything going for it: three miles of glorious golden sand, a party-like vibe, and a dazzling skyline of jagged mountains and Art Deco and modernist architecture. Even the beach boulevard, a swirly black-and-white mosaic design by landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, is a visual knockout. The beach acts as the city's social hub (especially on weekends), with locals sunbathing, promenading, and playing volleyball, and vendors selling everything from popsicles and shrimp skewers to caipirinhas and ice-cold beer. Copa's glory days may be behind it (Leblon and Ipanema are chicer "it spots"), but the vintage appeal is part of its charm.


 

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Cape Le Grand National Park, Western Australia

 

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Cape Le Grand National Park is home to several distinct beaches and bays, each one beautiful and quintessentially Australian. Le Grand Coastal Trail winds through scrubby heath and rocky bluffs, visiting Hellfire Bay (where granite boulders, clear blue water, and an arcing beach form fantastic scenery) and Lucky Bay (the site of some of the world's whitest sand). For a bird's-eye view, hike the 1.5-mile, wildflower-strewn Frenchman Peak Trail.

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Clearwater Beach, Florida

 

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A whopping 1,350 miles of coastline grant Florida some of the most beautiful beaches in the U.S., if not the world. Clearwater Beach is enormously popular for its headlining virtue, but powdery white sands, flame-colored sunsets, and sensational weather year-round are other big perks. It's not out of the ordinary to spot dolphins leaping over the water and pelicans hanging out with the fishermen on Pier 60. If a break from all that Florida sunshine is in order, visit the sea turtles, stingrays, and penguins at Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

 

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Sotavento Beach, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

 

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While Fuerteventura is wildly overdeveloped in parts, Sotavento is the antidote to the island's brassy, built-up beach resorts. Its 17-mile span contains little but golden dunes, immense sandy beach, and rolling teal waves. Reliable trade winds dimple the desert-meets-ocean landscape with vast tidepools and low-tide lagoons. The windy conditions plus year-round warm water make Sotavento heaven for swimming, surfing, kiteboarding, and Hobie Cat sailing.
 

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