Part three of our throughout the world for the most beautiful sandy stretches, visiting South America as well as the Caribbean and the Bahamas – and we’ve found some absolute delights.
The 10 non-landlocked nations of South America offer a diverse selection of brilliant beaches from the countries riding the equator to the frozen southern tip.
Copacabana Beach – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Perhaps the world’s most famous beach, Copacabana stretches for 2.5 miles and attracts the city’s brightest and most beautiful day-after-day. Not the most intimate entry on this list, Copacabana demands a visit thanks to the unique experience and the panoramic vistas of Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer. The huge parties held on the beach are famous the world over for their revelry and carnival spirit.
Shell Beach – Guyana
The tiny nation of Guyana possesses an undisturbed beach coastline, with Shell Beach stretching out for close to 100 miles, dipping into the Atlantic. Another hotspot for marine turtle activity, this huge sandy stretch is home to many spots perfect for a little seaside relaxation and recuperation.
Puerto Lopez – Manabi Province, Ecuador
Sometimes referred to as the poor man’s Galapagos, Puerto Lopez’s pleasing beach is home to an arresting wildlife selection. Blue-footed boobies, iguanas and sea lions can all be spotted on this Ecuadorian coast – making it one of the world’s top beaches for animal lovers and nature enthusiasts.
Punta del Diablo – Uruguay
A calm fishing village, the majority of Punta del Diablo’s residents are still fishermen and artists. A short jog from the Brazilian border, the beach is popular with Uruguayans, Brazilians and a few Argentinians but remains joyfully untouched by other nationalities. The wonderful waters provide the perfect place to relax and watch the world float by.
Matapica Beach – Suriname
Suriname’s unique topography makes every step in this enigmatic, river-strewn city a new experience. And following a series of narrow channels will bring you out at Matapica Beach, a beautiful stretch of beach, and the world’s most important marine turtle nesting sites. Nowhere else in the world is better for watching these incredible animals nest, hatch and take to the waters for the first time.
Pocitas Beach – Mancora, Peru
Away from the Inca trails and Machu Picchu, Peru’s beaches have plenty to offer holidaymakers looking for a little sun, sea and sand. Las Pocitas (The Little Wells, aww) is a beautiful small beach, with an exclusive, peaceful ambience. The natural greenery has been carefully maintained around the edges of the beach, providing a lovely backdrop to a day’s sun worshipping.
Pehuén Có – Argentina
Away from the hustle and bustle of Argentina’s cities sits Pehuén Có – a completely undisturbed stretch of beach. With an absolute dearth of tourists, hotels or even buildings, the beach is an idyllic setting for relaxing with a good book.
La Serena, Chile
The thin nation of Chile is practically all coastline, so it is hardly surprising the nation boasts more than a handful of stunning beaches, but La Serena is our pick. Away from the crowds and the noise, La Serena may not have the calmest waters in South America, but there’s plenty of top-notch beach bars to help settle the nerves.
La Playa El Agua – Margarita Island, Venezuela
A truly amazing name for an island, one that we’d all want to be transported to at 4pm on a rainy Tuesday at work – Margarita Island also boasts the exceptional La Playa El Agua, a beautiful beach. Blessed with clear waters and simple restaurants serving delicious dishes – it’s easy to lose a few hours to this spectacular part of the world. And it’s best enjoyed with a glass of the tequila cocktail in hand.
Tayrona National Park – Colombia
With the rainforest practically meeting the shore, the beach on the coast of Tayrona National Park is unlike any other on the planet. Complementing the wild, natural beauty of the beach are the cold mountain streams which flow through the jungle into the turquoise sea. This beach could not be more different from the high-rise backed beaches of tourist traps the world over.
For a huge selection of great cruise tours around South America, click this link.
Caribbean and the Bahamas
Nothing personifies the Caribbean and the Bahamas like a golden beach flanked by deep blue seas and tropical palm trees. So picking the best 10 in this region was a tough ask.
Varadero – Cuba
Even in the competitive world of Caribbean beach ranking, Varadero in Cuba remains the most spectacular expanse of sand in the region. It is so large that even when the massive local hotels are all full, there’s still plenty of space for sun worshippers to spread out and soak up a few rays in Cuban paradise.
Dickenson Bay – Antigua and Barbuda
We probably could have completed this list of 80 beaches entirely within Antigua and Barbuda, with the islands boasting over 350 beaches alone. Dickenson Bay is the pick of the bunch though, with a long and deep stretch of sand providing plenty of space for sunbathing, sandcastle building and impromptu games of beach cricket.
Grand Anse – Grenada
Offering a mile and a half of unspoilt sand and views along the coast to Grenada’s enigmatic capital, St George’s; Grand Anse is an idyllic retreat for families and couples. Perfect for swimming thanks to the sandy sea floor and calm waters, the beach provides everything a Caribbean setting should.
Shoal Bay – Anguilla
Even 54 entries into this list of stunning beaches, Shoal Bay’s turquoise waters are captivating. Lapping against the two-mile stretch of sand, the gentle waters are great for a quick dip and a length or two. Tip – head for the lower end of the beach, which is generally the quieter half of Shoal Bay.
Petit St Vincent – The Grenadines
A contender for the quaintest-named beach island in the world, Petit St Vincent is a bit of a beaut. This tiny island is essentially a bottle-green forest surrounded by beautiful white sands, lapped by calm azure waters. The bad news? It’s a private island, so you’ll have to be a resident, and super rich.
Mullins Beach – Barbados
The archetypal Caribbean beach, tilting palm trees overlook golden sands wetted by the rolling deep blue sea. The beach does possess a certain touristic bent, but this means that there’s plenty to enjoy during a day on the sands, from water sports to top rum-based cocktails.
Seven Mile Beach – Grand Cayman
This five-mile-long (didn’t think we’d measure hey, Grand Cayman?) is routinely voted amongst the world’s 10 best beaches thanks to its beautiful white coral sands. Expensive yachts regularly pull up to dock just off the coast, so it’s a great spot to try and catch a glimpse of the rich and famous at play.
Pinney’s Beach – St Kitts and Nevis
Managing the seemingly impossible, Pinney’s Beach is both a great spot for party animals and those who long for a more tranquil stay. Parties and volleyball games including rosters of the most impossibly sexy people you’ll ever witness take place adjacent to couples soaking up the sun’s rays in perfect peace.
Anse des Pitons – St Lucia
So often, St Lucia has the last word in Caribbean paradise – and Anse des Pitons is regularly the island’s ace up its sleeve. Dramatically located at the foot of twin volcano peaks, the golden sands and rich blue waters provide one of the world’s most stunning settings. The beach is also tip-top for water sports enthusiasts, with snorkelling and kayaking on offer.
Old Bright – Cat Island, Bahamas
Some of the beaches in the Bahamas suffer from over-population, but not those on Cat Island. In particular, Old Bright Beach is wonderfully overlooked by the masses, who are missing out on the beautiful, lazy curve of the sands. Be warned – Cat Island has very few facilities, so make sure you bring your own towel and sunscreen.