The 50 best beaches in the world for 2023, from Cornwall to Hawaii

The 50 best beaches in the world for 2023 revealed, from a strip of sand in Cornwall rivalling the Caribbean to heaven in Hawaii – does YOUR favourite make the cut?

  • The top prize goes to White Beach in The Philippines, said to be a ‘pristine gem’ 
  • The ranking is shown in reverse order, with the dreamiest beaches at the bottom 
  • READ MORE: First-look photos unveiled of the new Piccadilly line Tube train

If you’re seeking inspiration for a truly out-sand-ing beach break, read on.

An annual ranking of the 50 best beaches in the world reveals 2023’s top strips of sand – and they are the definition of dreamy.

The guide has been created by Big 7 Travel, which generated it by analysing Blue Flag locations, beaches’ social media popularity and the thoughts of its editorial team.

The top prize goes to White Beach in The Philippines, which is heralded as a ‘pristine gem’ that boasts ‘hammocks, powdery white sand, kayaks to rent, and of course, crystal-clear water’. Colombia’s ‘tropical paradise’ Cabo San Juan Beach comes second, while St Lucia’s Jalousie Beach, a ‘beauty’ of a beach framed by volcanic peaks, is third.

Also making the top five are Zanzibar’s Kendwa Beach and Whitehaven Beach in Australia. The top-ranking UK beach is Cornwall’s Pedn Vounder (25th), which is said to serve as ‘proof that Britons don’t need to hotfoot to the Caribbean for a tropical island-inspired getaway’. 

Meanwhile, the top U.S beach is Tunnels Beach in Hawaii – praised as the ‘ultimate snorkelling spot’, it ranks 21st overall. Scroll down for the paradisical list in full, displayed in reverse order…

50. KOEKOHE BEACH, OTAGO, SOUTH ISLAND, NEW ZEALAND: ‘The scenic, sandy beach at Koekohe is mostly famous for one thing – the Moeraki Boulders,’ says Big 7 Travel, adding: ‘The mysteriously round stones scattered across the beach weigh several tonnes.’ If you’re a keen photographer, take note – the travel site says that ‘early morning and late afternoon are the prime times for photography, when brilliant soft sunlight is cast across the rocks’ 

49. MYSTIC BEACH, VANCOUVER ISLAND, CANADA: Big 7 Travel describes Mystic Beach, located on the southern coast of Vancouver Island, as an ‘enchanting’ stretch of sand. It says: ‘Set along the Juan de Fuca Trail, the white sandy beach is set against a lush forest, with a picturesque waterfall cascading right into the brilliant blue sea’ 

48. KEEM BAY, ACHILL ISLAND, IRELAND: Big 7 travel reveals: ‘Keem Bay is a breathtaking rural and sheltered beach surrounded by cliffs on Ireland’s largest island – Achill Island. Its gleaming white sand rivals tropical islands and the water is superbly clear.’ In a nod to Ireland’s infamously wet weather, the travel site adds that the beach is ‘beautiful even on a rainy day’ 

47. ISLA ROBESON, SAN BLAS ISLANDS, PANAMA: ‘For castaway fantasies, it doesn’t get much better than Isla Robeson,’ says Big 7 Travel, adding: ‘Many claim it’s where Robinson Crusoe’s famous protagonist was shipwrecked.’ The travel site says that you can expect ‘crystal clear waters, swaying palm trees and talc-soft white sands’ on a visit to the isle, which lies in the San Blas Islands archipelago 

46. TUGBOAT BEACH, CURACAO: Big 7 Travel praises the ‘vibe’ of this beach, saying: ‘The pebbly cove is lined with cute beach shacks and bars with a hippy, artistic atmosphere. It’s famous for its art shacks, where you can paint your own souvenirs.’ The travel site adds: ‘As the name suggests, there’s a shipwrecked tugboat, which makes this beach an excellent snorkelling spot.’ Image courtesy of Creative Commons 

45. YONAHA MAEHAMA BEACH, MIYAKOJIMA, JAPAN: ‘Set on the little-known island of Miyakojima, Yonaha Maehama Beach is a pristine 7km- (four-mile) stretch of white sand, lapped by clear, crystalline waters,’ declares Big 7 Travel. It continues: ‘While it might look like the stuff of desert island fantasy, there are plenty of facilities and activities to enjoy here too’ 

44. PUNTA DEL’ESTE, URUGUAY: Big 7 Travel reveals that this beach is ’rolling in fun-loving celebrities’ during the summer months. It notes: ‘Technically, it’s two beaches – Playa Mansa and Playa Brava. The former offers course blonde sand while the latter is mostly white sand.’ The travel site adds that ‘a giant sculpture of a half-buried hand’ (above) divides the two beaches

43. MAUNDAYS BAY, ANGUILLA: Big 7 Travel says that this beach boasts ‘white-sand shores and clear, azure waters’. It continues: ‘This is picture-perfect Caribbean territory. For an extra-special outing, head here at night to see the glittering lights from neighbouring St Martin Island. It’s beautiful’ 

42. RHOSSILI BAY, GOWER PENINSULA, WALES: Big 7 Travel says that it takes a ‘bit of a hike down a steep cliff-top path’ to reach this beach, but once you make it there you can enjoy ‘three miles (5km) of golden sands’. The travel site adds: ‘It’s a popular surfing spot, or you can just relax and enjoy the beach – it’s kept pristine under the watchful eye of the National Trust’ 

41. DREAM BEACH, NUSA LEMBONGAN ISLAND, INDONESIA: Of Dream Beach, Big 7 Travel says: ‘When the tide is in and the current’s particularly strong, the turquoise waters cloak the whole of the white sands – you can watch from the swings or the beach bar.’ The travel site adds that when the tide goes out, you can explore the beach’s rock pools. Image courtesy of Creative Commons 

40. CHAMPAGNE BEACH, VANUATU: ‘One of the world’s most picturesque beaches, this spot has clear blue waters and sparkling sand,’ says Big 7 Travel, adding: ‘Once you’ve worked up an appetite for swimming, you’ll be grateful for all those fresh fruit stalls, freshly prepared crab and lobster, and cute beachside shacks too’ 

39. GRUMARI BEACH, BRAZIL: Big 7 Travel says: ‘Copacabana and Ipanema might get all the fame, but those in the know hotfoot to Grumari Beach.’ It adds that the beach, which ‘boasts fine golden sands and emerald-green waters’ is ‘backed by bottle-green rainforest’ 

38. PIG BEACH, BIG MAJOR CAY, BAHAMAS: ‘This Insta-famous beach is all over social media,’ declares Big 7 Travel. The beach is famously inhabited by pigs, the travel site reveals, though it notes that ‘no one quite knows how the pigs got there’ as they’re not native to Big Major Cay island. Fancy visiting? Big 7 Travel says that travellers can ‘book a day trip boat ride to see this beach’s pristine waters and swim alongside piglets’ 

37. BARCELONETA BEACH, BARCELONA, SPAIN: Big 7 Travel says that this busy beach ‘perfectly captures the energy’ of Barcelona. The travel site reveals: ‘It’s heaps of fun with music, beach bars, and volleyball, and it’s surprisingly clean for a city beach.’ It also notes that it’s ‘entirely manmade – its golden sands were shipped over from Egypt’ 

36. LE MORNE, MAURITIUS: ‘This long golden stretch sits under the majestic Le Morne mountain on the southwestern tip of Mauritius,’ says Big 7 Travel. It continues: ‘Combining miles of white sand with soaring casuarina trees [a type of flowering plant] surrounded by turquoise waters, it’s one of the island’s most stunning sights. It’s popular with windsurfers and kite surfers too’ 

35. NAAMA BAY, SHARM EL-SHEIKH, EGYPT: Big 7 Travel says: ‘Naama Bay offers golden sands and the wildlife-rich azure waters of the Gulf of Aqaba. In the far distance, you can see Saudi Arabia’s craggy coastline.’ The travel site adds that there’s ‘a real otherworldly feel to this beach’ 

34. SAN FRUTTUOSO, GENOA, ITALY: ‘It might not have swaying palm trees or rolling dunes, but it does have a Benedictine monastery,’ Big 7 Travel says of this beach. It continues: ‘It’s an intimate pale pebbled beach, squeezed between turquoise waters and lush mountains.’ To get there, it’s a ‘two-hour hike or thrilling boat ride from ritzy Portofino’, the travel site adds 

33. CALA PREGONDA, MENORCA, SPAIN: Big 7 Travel says that this stretch of beach has a ‘rusty hue that compliments the still, turquoise waters’ 

32. BOULDERS BEACH, NEAR SIMON’S TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA: Big 7 Travel says that Boulders Beach is ‘famous for its inhabitants’, explaining: ‘A whole colony of as many as 3,000 African penguins nest on the beach.’ An entrance fee is charged and the penguins can only be viewed from raised boardwalks

31. RAILAY BEACH, THAILAND: Big 7 Travel says: ‘Combine a world-class rock-climbing destination with soft white sands, emerald waters, and enormous limestone cliffs, and you have Railay Beach.’ It adds: ‘Despite being busy, it’s still incredibly beautiful’

30. SECRET LAGOON, MINILOC ISLAND, EL NIDO, PALAWAN, PHILIPPINES: This idyllic spot offers travellers ‘crystal-clear waters’ and ‘tropical jungle’, Big 7 Travel reveals 

29. PUNTA MOSQUITO, HOLBOX, MEXICO: You can expect to discover ‘lush mangroves and reams of powdery white sand’ on a visit to this beach, Big 7 Travel reveals. The travel site notes that the isle it’s situated on, Holbox, is ‘one of Mexico’s best spots for snorkelling’ 

28. NEGRIL BEACH, JAMAICA: ‘This seven-mile (11km) stretch of idyllic beach has palms swaying in the breeze, clear emerald waters, and fresh coconuts to sip on,’ says Big 7 Travel, adding: ‘It’s lined by all-inclusive resorts, but there’s plenty of space to spread out’ 

27. SHARK BAY, KOH TAO, THAILAND: ‘Expect clear turquoise waters and world-class snorkelling at Koh Tao’s Shark Bay,’ says Big 7 Travel. The travel site declares it ‘one of the best snorkelling spots in Thailand’, adding: ‘Many flock to this small bay to spot blacktip reef sharks. You’ll likely see sea turtles swimming around, too’ 

26. HORSESHOE BAY, BERMUDA: Big 7 Travel says: ‘Named for its curved shape, the popular Horseshoe Bay Beach showcases Bermuda’s trademark crystal blue waters and pink sands.’ It adds that there are also ‘hidden caves and tucked-away coves to explore’ 

25. PEDN VOUNDER, CORNWALL, ENGLAND: Of ‘beautiful’ Pedn Vounder, Big 7 Travel says: ‘Combining crystal clear blue water and white sand, it’s proof that you don’t need to hotfoot to the Caribbean for a tropical island-inspired getaway’ 

24. KANGA BEACH, MAFIA ISLAND, TANZANIA: Big 7 Travel reveals: ‘This sublimely serene beach boasts white sands, turquoise waters and sprawling tidal flats. Below the surface, it’s just as dreamy with its unique coral grove, mangrove and marine channel ecosystems teeming with fish, including whale sharks’ 

23. BAZARUTO ARCHIPELAGO, MOZAMBIQUE: This ‘aquamarine paradise’ encompasses five islands off the coast of the town of Vilanculos, Big 7 Travel reveals, adding: ‘Untouched and idyllic, the sugar-white stretches of sand give way to miles of colourful coral reefs.’ The travel site notes that the islands are popular with ‘turtles, dolphins, rays, whales, sharks and over 2,000 fish species’

22. GJIPE BEACH, ALBANIA: Big 7 Travel describes this ‘remote bay flanked by soaring hills’ as ‘beautiful’, adding that while it’s not easy to access the beach, it’s worth the effort it takes to get there 

21. TUNNELS BEACH (ALSO KNOWN AS MAKUA), KAUAI, HAWAII: Big 7 Travel describes this beach as the ‘ultimate snorkelling spot, with the picturesque backdrop of Mount Makana and lush jungles’. It adds: ‘Lava tubes have formed the many underwater caverns here, which gives the beach its name’ 

20. PRAIA DO CAMILO, LAGOS, PORTUGAL: ‘It’s a hefty 200 steps down to reach this beautiful beach (and an unrelenting clamber back up), but you won’t be disappointed,’ says Big 7 Travel. It continues: ‘From the winding path nestled into orange cliffs, you’ll see the Ponta da Piedade nearby, a landmark rock formation with grottoes and rock arches’ 

19. SEVEN MILE BEACH, GRAND CAYMAN, CAYMAN ISLANDS: Big 7 Travel describes Seven Mile Beach as ‘one of the most famous beaches in the world’, adding that ‘with sparkling waters and blinding white sands, it’s so perfect it almost doesn’t look real’. The travel site notes: ‘Sunsets here are unforgettable, and you can also enjoy world-class snorkelling’ 

18. BAGA BEACH, GOA, INDIA: Of this stretch of sand, Big 7 Travel says: ‘It’s a fun place to relax or pick up some water sports during the day, and by night it’s a nightlife hotspot.’ Elaborating on its nightlife offering, the travel site reveals that ‘the beach is lined by shacks pumping out music until the wee hours, as well as some of the area’s best nightclubs’ 

17. BUTTERFLY VALLEY, FETHIYE DISTRICT, TURKEY: Big 7 Travel describes this beach as ‘dramatically beautiful’, noting that ‘not only does it look straight out of a postcard, but it’s also home to over 100 species of butterflies’ 

16. TURQUOISE BAY, EXMOUTH, AUSTRALIA: Of this beach, Big 7 Travel says: ‘Think turquoise waters, the softest white sand and sparkling views over Ningaloo Reef, famed for its whale sharks.’ It adds that this coastal stretch is ‘every bit as beautiful underwater too, with coral gardens teeming with marine life’ 

15. PINK BEACH, KOMODO ISLAND, INDONESIA: ‘There are just seven pink beaches in the world, but Indonesia takes the cake,’ says Big 7 Travel. The beach lies on Komodo Island, known for its population of Komodo dragons. The travel site adds: ‘There’s a Jurassic Park-esque feel to this beach, and it’s not just the proximity to the Komodo dragons’ 

14. DIANI BEACH, KENYA: Describing this beach, Big 7 Travel says: ‘The sparkling coastline is hugged by lush forests and palm trees, and the waves are perfect for surfing.’ It adds that it ‘isn’t just beautiful’, as it also has a fun and vibrant atmosphere’, drawing in everyone from ‘families to party people’ 

13. PLAYA CONCHAL, COSTA RICA: ‘There’s a real sense of escapism here, with few amenities and ridiculously beautiful surrounding nature,’ Big 7 Travel says of this beach 

12. REYNISFJARA BEACH, VIK I MYRDAL, ICELAND: ‘If tropical beaches aren’t your thing, be sure to visit this beautiful black sand beach in Iceland,’ says Big 7 Travel, adding: ‘With enormous basalt stacks that rise out of the sea and unusual black sand, this is an unforgettable beach.’ It notes that Game of Thrones fans might recognise it as a filming location from season seven of the hit fantasy series 

11. DHIGURAH BEACH, DHIGURAH ISLAND, THE MALDIVES: Big 7 Travel explains: ‘Dhigurah Beach is the coastline that wraps around Dhigurah Island, all 2.2 miles (3.5km) of it! The green oasis in the middle of the Indian Ocean is a paradise, surrounded by miles of impossibly turquoise water.’ The travel site adds that it’s ‘basically empty, except for the snorkelling trips that come to the island to spot the resident whale sharks’ 

10. HYAMS BEACH, NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA: ‘Hyams Beach is just three hours south of Sydney, but between its pine forests and white sands, it feels worlds apart,’ says Big 7 Travel. It continues: ‘It’s an excellent spot for snorkelling, thanks to its gentle waves, and it’s popular with stingrays too. Keep an eye out for playful dolphins for the ultimate photo opportunity’ 

9. LANG CO BEACH, VIETNAM: ‘This little-known beach is a small cove below the Hai Van Pass – an incredibly scenic road that snakes through the mountains of Central Vietnam,’ says Big 7 Travel. It says the ‘beautiful’ beach is the ‘perfect place to stop off and tuck into a fresh seafood lunch’. It adds: ‘It’s backed by luscious Bach Ma National Park, creating a scene of utter tranquillity’ 

8. GRACE BAY, TURKS AND CAICOS: Big 7 Travel says: ‘This pristine beach is the shining jewel of the Turks and Caicos Islands. The entire beach is just over 3km (two miles) long, with no pollution – just pure white sand and clean water.’ The travel site adds that ‘a barrier reef found 1.6km (one mile) out protects Grace Bay from the ocean swells of the Atlantic, so you can swim with ease’ 

7. NAVAGIO BEACH (SHIPWRECK COVE), ZAKYNTHOS, GREECE: This ‘secluded cove’ – which is only accessible by boat – is named after the 1983 shipwreck on its shores, Big 7 Travel reveals. It explains: ‘The remnants of the boat sit in the centre of the huge white sandy beach, lapped by turquoise waters and backed by soaring cliffs’

6. SOURCE D’ARGENT, SEYCHELLES: ‘Beloved for its shallow warm waters and shimmering sand, you’ll need to walk through the old L’Union Estate coconut plantation to access the beach,’ says Big 7 Travel. It adds that visitors are in with a chance of spotting sea turtles swimming off the shore, if they’re lucky 

5. WHITEHAVEN BEACH, WHITSUNDAY ISLANDS, AUSTRALIA: ‘Stretching across 7km (four miles), this brilliant white silica sand beach is among one of the purest in the world,’ says Big 7 Travel. It notes that ‘the sand doesn’t retain heat, so it’s a fantastic place to walk barefoot, even on a hot day’ 

4. KENDWA BEACH, ZANZIBAR: Touching on what makes this beach so special, Big 7 Travel says: ‘The blinding white sand melts into the emerald waters – a picture-postcard sight.’ While there, the travel site recommends that you ‘sip on fresh coconuts, get a massage, or enjoy a cocktail in one of the beach shacks’ 

3. JALOUSIE BEACH, ST LUCIA: ‘This tropical paradise of white sands, crystal clear waters, lush vegetation, and volcanic peaks is a beauty,’ Big 7 Travel says of this stretch of sand, which is also known as Sugar Beach 

2. CABO SAN JUAN BEACH, COLOMBIA: Big 7 Travel notes that this beach – billed as a ‘tropical paradise’ – lies in Tayrona National Park, and it takes a long hike to reach it. The travel site notes: ‘The main draw to Cabo San Juan Beach is the campsite – a night under the stars, listening to the calm sea lap onto shore sounds like heaven to us’ 

1. WHITE BEACH, NEAR PORT BARTON, PHILIPPINES: Big 7 Travel describes this gold-medal-winning beach as a ‘pristine gem’. It says: ‘The only way to reach the beach is by hopping on a boat from Port Barton [a nearby village] or taking a very bumpy journey in a four-by-four – being hard to reach means the beach is clean and wonderfully quiet. Think hammocks, powdery white sand, kayaks to rent, and of course, crystal-clear water. All with a backdrop of lush forests’ 

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