A good beach holiday is such a tonic – there’s just something about strolling along a peaceful beach, gazing out over the turquoise ocean, and feeling the sea breeze in your hair.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit some of the best beaches in the world, from the pure white sands of the Cook Islands to relaxed beach parties in Thailand.
There are so many spectacular beach destinations around the world, from the tiny atolls of the Indian Ocean to the far-flung sands of the Pacific. These are our favourite destinations to consider if you’re looking for a relaxing beach holiday.
There’s nowhere quite like French Polynesia. One of the most popular destinations in the South Pacific, French Polynesia is home to 118 islands scattered over 5 archipelagos. The main island of Tahiti is part of the Society Islands, which are a paradise of pristine beaches, peaceful bays and swaying palm trees.
Swim with rays in Moorea, relax on the deck of an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora and hike through the lush peaks of Huahine. Explore vanilla plantations in Taha'a, snorkel with colourful fish in Maupiti and hike through the forest in Raiatea. You can even get married in Bora Bora on a peaceful beach under the pink sunset.
If you want to get away from the beaten track, there are so many gorgeous islands to discover. Head to the Tuamotu Islands, where you can stroll along pink sands in Tikehau and dive with sharks in Fakarava. Or you could fly north to the wild Marquesas Islands, a group of castaway islands rich in history, culture and dramatic landscapes. Further south lie the Austral Islands, where peaceful lagoons are found beneath towering peaks and you can fill your days with hikes amongst the orange blossom and snorkelling with whales.
French Polynesia is one of our favourite destinations and we are experts in this region of the Pacific. See our French Polynesia tailor-made holidays.
Antigua famously has 365 beaches, one for each day of the year. When you visit this pretty little island in the Caribbean, you’ll learn that they are right to be proud of these beautiful stretches of sand. When you’re not relaxing on the beach, you can taste local rum at historic distilleries, explore the restored sugar plantation at Betty’s Hope and watch water shoot into the air at the Devil’s Bridge blowholes.
Swim with stingrays in the clear water, snorkel with shimmering shoals of fish and wander into the capital of St Johns looking for some Caribbean food and a live steel drum band. Make time for Barbuda if you can – you’ll find a quiet and undeveloped vibe, with pretty pink beaches, authentic local accommodation and frigate birds soaring through the skies.
Famous for the paradise islands that are scattered around the southern coast, Thailand has been drawing crowds to its beautiful beaches for decades. Stroll along the peaceful beaches of Koh Mook, feast on fresh seafood on the sands of Koh Lanta and get off the beaten track in the quiet bays of Koh Chang.
Watch fire shows spinning sparks through the air in Koh Samet and party on the beach at the full moon in Koh Phangan. Thailand is one of those wonderful countries that offers a bit of everything, perfectly combining the culture of Chiang Mai and the northern hills, the hustle and bustle of Bangkok and the brilliant beaches of the south. Stay in luxury hotels or on tiny beach huts right by the water – this is truly the stuff of dreams.
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The Seychelles is a stunning collection of paradise islands, with white sands, luxurious accommodation and a laidback pace of life. The beaches here are framed by the iconic boulders, huge lumps of rock that have been smoothed by the sea over hundreds of years. One of our favourite islands is La Digue, a car-free paradise with an endless supply of white-sand beaches.
It’s not the kind of island where you really get up to much – you should spend your time here wandering along beaches, meeting locals and tasting their creole street food or diving into the ocean to snorkel amongst the colourful fishes. The air is sweet with vanilla as you cycle around the island visiting different beaches – our recommendation is Anse Source d’Argent, perfect for a drink at sunset.
If you want to get really off the beaten track, you could visit the outer atolls of Astove and Cosmoledo. These tiny islands are closer to Madagascar than the rest of the Seychelles – stay in a luxurious eco-camp on a pristine beach in Cosmoledo and snorkel with sailfish and manta rays in the warm water. This region has been known as the ‘Galapagos of the Indian Ocean’ and is absolutely teeming with marine life.
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A beautiful beach is one of the first images that comes to mind when I think of Australia. There are too many to mention here but here are some of my real favourites. Learn to surf on the wide beaches of Byron Bay, stroll alongside the locals on Manly Beach in Sydney and sail past the perfect sandbanks in the Whitsunday Islands.
Further away from the famous areas, there are so many smaller beaches to discover on an Australian road trip – endless stretches of sand in Jervis Bay, looking for wildlife on the peaceful bays of Kangaroo Island and admiring the colours on the rocks of the Bay of Fires at sunset.
Don’t forget about Western Australia – so many visitors only consider the popular east coast but some of the best beaches in the country can be found elsewhere. Take the ferry from Perth to Rottnest Island, a lovely weekend spot full of secluded bays, excellent snorkelling and friendly quokkas hopping about looking for snacks.
If you’ve got time, I’d recommend heading out to Esperance and driving to Cape Le Grand National Park, where you’ll find Lucky Bay. Regularly voted the best beach in Australia, this stretch of squeaky-clean sand is just dreamy – perfect for a romantic getaway.
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If you’re looking for somewhere beautiful, but low key, then New Caledonia is a brilliant beach destination for a holiday. Nestled between Fiji and Australia, the large main island of Grande Terre is a great place for a road trip. Meet friendly locals, stroll along La Roche Percée Beach and learn about New Caledonia’s time as a French prison colony. Hike through the lush forest that fills the island and dive in the turquoise waters off the coast – there are so many ways to fill your days here.
Beach wise, New Caledonia is hard to beat. Spend the day on Amedee Island, where palm trees sway in the breeze and the snorkelling is spectacular in the protected water. One of our favourite islands is Ile des Pins off the south coast, a tiny island covered in the trademark pine trees of this region. Oro Bay is one of the most impressive beaches in the Pacific, with the famous natural swimming pool surrounded by peaceful forest. Tuck into fresh seafood and watch the sun set into the water – this really is paradise.
If you have even longer to explore, I’d recommend adding some time in the Loyalty Islands, off the east coast - Ouvea, Lifou and Mare. Here, your days will be filled with white sand beaches, turquoise waters and pink sunsets. Dive into small coves in Lifou, pick avocados for breakfast in Mare and enjoy a beach to yourself on the quiet island of Ouvea.
A trip to the Maldives is on lots of people’s bucket lists, especially to stay in an overwater bungalow on a pristine lagoon. Really this is the ultimate beach destination, with endless white-sand beaches circling the turquoise lagoons, with large atolls dotted through the calm Indian Ocean. Depending on where you stay, there is so much to discover, whether you want to swim with manta rays and reef sharks, dive on the dazzling reefs or simply sit back on the deck of your villa and soak up the views.
If you don’t want to go all out on an overwater room, beach bungalows can be just as good of an experience, with a private stretch of sand and ocean views from your sun lounger. The Maldives works perfectly as a standalone beach holiday but is also an amazing way to end a holiday in India or Sri Lanka. After some cultural exploration, spicy food and incredible wildlife, finishing your trip in the Maldives is the icing on the cake!
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If you're searching for an authentic Pacific island experience, the Cook Islands are for you. Still rich in Polynesia culture, here you'll also find an enchanting mix of modern and traditional, smiling faces and a relaxed way of life. You’ll arrive in Rarotonga, the main island which has lush peaks, friendly locals and a ring of white-sand beaches around the coast. Make sure you fit in an island night during your time here – this is the perfect introduction to island life and Polynesian culture.
The neighbouring island of Aitutaki really took my breath away on my trip to the Cook Islands. Strolling along the endless turquoise lagoon beneath peacefully swaying palms, getting into local life in the coral-walled churches and dining on curried octopus and mahi-mahi under the stars. The jaw-dropping beauty of Aitutaki is something you shouldn’t miss and will be a highlight of any trip to the Cooks.
The Cook Islands is a wonderful destination for families – children will be welcomed everywhere you go, learning to snorkel in the quiet waters and tasting new foods at the colourful market. There is a huge range of accommodation, from luxury hotels to relaxed self-catering guesthouses that are perfect for a family beach getaway.
It's also a magical place to get married - just imagine exchanging your vows on One Foot Island, an uninhabited paradise in Aitutaki. For a destination wedding, this is the dream.
Hawaii is one of those iconic beach destinations – hula girls, luaus on the beach and fresh pineapple in the sun. Almost anyone coming through Hawaii will arrive in Honolulu on the island of Oahu, which is a great place to learn about this island state, visiting the historic memorial at Pearl Harbour and the Polynesian Cultural Centre. Oahu has some truly spectacular beaches, from the world-class snorkelling at Hanauma Bay to the surfing beaches of the North Shore.
I’d always recommend visiting at least one other island, more if you have the time. The Big Island of Hawaii has so much to offer – star gazing from the summit of Mauna Kea, snorkelling with manta rays and look for lava flows at Volcanoes National Park. You can also stroll along the golden sands of Hapuna Beach or make the 30-minute hike to Makalawena Beach, which is well worth the extra effort.
Kauai is known as the ‘Garden Island’, with lush peaks and the spectacular Na Pali coastline just waiting to be discovered. You can beach hop across the north coast, between Lumahai and Wainiha beaches, each more lovely than the last. In Maui, you can drive the Hana Highway enjoying views of the ocean and look for whales basking in the warm waters before sinking your toes into the soft sand of Makena Beach.
I hope this blog has given you some ideas for your next beach holiday. Whether you want to go snorkelling with turtles in the Maldives, dine under the stars in French Polynesia or stroll along the golden sands of Hawaii, we can plan your beach holiday.
If you want to start to plan, give us a call on +44 1273320580 or request a quote. We are experts in planning tailor-made holidays, as well as round the world flights, so we can work together with you until we’ve created your perfect trip.