Information and pictures of the world's best beaches
Criteria: weather, water, sand,
facilities, access, visitor numbers.
Not shopping or hotel quality!
Asia Pacific Caribbean Atlantic Ocean Indian Ocean
Mediterranean Red Sea UK USA Diving
Best beaches by month Dangerous Rips
Cheap Low Season Vacations. Why Not? Sargassum seaweed
Maya Bay beach on Ko Phi Phi Leh, an uninhabited island in Thailand (until hundreds of tourists in longtail baots arrive from Phi Phi Don or Phuket or wherever...)
Philippines Thailand Malaysia Vietnam
India Goa Bali Singapore
Bora Bora island in the South Pacific.
Pacific Tahiti Moorea Bora Bora Rarotonga Fiji
Australia New Zealand South Africa
Hawaii California Costa
Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman island in the central Caribbean.
budget islands Caribbean information
Maya Riviera Dominican Republic Jamaica Cuba
Puerto Rico Aruba Bonaire Curaçao Barbados
Tobago Grand Cayman Tortola St Thomas
United States Virgin Islands British Virgin Islands
Cheap Caribbean Beach Hotels
La Concha beach in San Sebastian Donostia at low tide, on Spain's Atlantic coast.
Bahamas (Yup! Not in the Caribbean, but really close!) Brazil
Canary Islands (Spain) Spain (mainland)
USA east coast
A very comfortable Zanzi-bar, Tanzania.
Mauritius Seychelles Maldives Islands
Banana Beach on Skiathos island, Greece.
Spain Balearic Islands (Majorca etc)
France Corsica Biarritz
Côte d'Azur Villeneuve-Loubet Cagnes-sur-Mer
Nice Antibes Cannes
Greece beaches guide Greece beaches photos
Turkey beaches photos Turkey beaches guide
Italy Portugal Croatia Monaco
A Whale Shark off the Deadelus Reef in Egypt's Red Sea. Photo by Derek Keats.
Brighton beaches, England, UK.
Britain/UK Bournemouth Brighton Dorset Cornwall
Lanikai beach, Oahu, Hawaii, USA. Photo by Cristo Vlahos.
USA and nearby
Hawaii beach photos Hawaii beaches information California
East Florida Florida West Coast Florida Keys Mexico
A typically calm Maldives beach, Angsana Velavaru. Photo by Timo Newton Syms.
Maldives Florida Caribbean Tobago
Bonaire Grand Cayman
Best beaches by month
January February March April May June July
August September October November December
Water quality Jellyfish Dangerous
A new threat to some of the world's best beaches is a stinking but irresistable invasion of Sargassum seaweed slopping onto pristine beaches across the southern USA and Caribbean, including Texas, south Florida, Mexico, Barbados, Trinidad, Tobago, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rica, Brazil and even across the ocean to Portugal, Spain, the British Isles, and Morocco.
Sargassum appears as vast mats of free-floating seaweed growing on the surface of seawater and has probably been around for thousands of years. The difference now is that it's multiplied massively and is washing up on our favourite beaches in thousands of tons.
The miles-wide masses of algae pile up on beaches and rot creating a stink and creating a home for biting sand flies as well as making the waters unpleasant to swim in.
Some blame the 2010 BP oil-spill cleanup, some say it's a a natural response to global warming, toxic waste and sewage running from rivers into the seas.
The Bottom Line
When you book your vacation/honeymoon/one-in-a-lifetime best beach experience in the Caribbean/Mexico/south USA region ask the resort for clear evidence that there is no Sargassum situation there. Recent and dated photos? Refund guarantee?
It seems that some regions that are lying thru their teeth about Sargassum pollution. Hello Cancun? Anyone there? (In July Cancun workers removed 18,000 cubic feet of seaweed from the beach only to have it reappear days later). Tobago has declared a 'natural disaster'. Other popular beach resorts that have been badly affected are Galveston, Texas, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, Fort Lauderdale in Florida.
seasons. Cheap vacations but...
tour operators and even guide books are pretty casual about recommending
best beaches in any season, reasoning that during the rainy season
it only pours down for a short time.
This is true, but unfortunately there are other side effects
to wet season weather that can change a great beach holiday into
a dismal waste of time and money. e.g.
* High winds can make seas choppy, inter-island travel and fishing
trips unpleasant, snorkelling waters murky with drifting sand and
windsurfing or sailing impractical for all except pros. Even swimming
becomes an exercise in battling muddy blue waves rather than floating
tranquilly in clear turquoise waters. Furthermore, flotsam, jetsam
and seaweed blown onto shores makes even the best beaches look grubby
* Constant clouds ruin the sunny seaside ambience, sunbathing possibilities
shrink and photos look dull and dreary.
* High humidity creates an uncomfortably damp environment in rooms
that are not well air-conditioned.
* Stagnant pools of water create the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, though high winds may prevent them from flying.
* Not often but occasionally it will rain for several days
at a time, and then your beach paradise is really down the tubes
and your bed, book or a bar are the only solution.
the moral is to check the best/worst seasons before you book your
expensive trip and pay attention to the information!
Whether you buy the guide book first, check the Best Beaches calendar
recommendations on the Bug's Destination
Finder, don't risk the rainy season unless you have no choice!
A Parrot Fish (Scaridae) nibbling coral in the Maldives. Photo by Uxbona.
White sand, it's sh*t!
Little known fact - fine white powder sand in the tropics is mostly composed of fish poo with a pinch of decayed sea critters. This is due to coral reef-grazing fish, in particular Parrot Fish scraping, nibbling and biting off chunks of coral in search of algae and coral polyps. The fish excrete the inedible coral skeleton as fine white grains which then wash up on the beach for visitors to play in. Nice!
Beaches outside the tropics usually have coarser yellow sand which is formed from rock or sea-shell degradation over millennia, or black sand which is often ancient volcanic remains. These kind of sands retain the sun's heat so can be tough to walk over in bare feet whereas the coral poo variety remains cool even under intense sunlight. No sh*t!
Kid's swimwear in seriously sunny environments should be be UV protected to UPF50 standards, whether suits, shorts or shirts, as well as sunscreen on other exposed parts. The early years are when children's skin is most vulnerable and may trigger problems later in life. But don't go mad, some sunshine is good for the body which needs the Vitamin D for solid bones and healthy growth.
sea currents, known as rips
A couple of years ago three parents drowned in a whirlpool off Tonel beach
on Portugal's Atlantic coast.
Whirlpools are an extreme example of dangerous currents but fundamentally
need to be handled in the same way as any undertow - also known
as a rip; they rarely drag people down, only around and around.
Monster waves are clearly visible but powerful rips that cycle wave water back
to the ocean through a narrow channel are equally dangerous, can easily take swimmers out
with them and are invisible to the inexperienced eye. Resistance
Parents should exercise caution on unfamiliar beaches. Beaches that
are monitored by life guards around the world generally flag safe
areas to swim - which may be narrow and crowded - as opposed to
surf zones which can seem attractively uncrowded but conceal dangerous
Most surfers are strong swimmers, know how to handle rips,
and of course have a board to hang on to, so don't think you can
share their space.
to do if caught in a rip
DO NOT PANIC. Desperate and exhausting thrashing is the killer as
rips don't usually drag swimmers under, even the whirlpool version,
just away from the beach. If you fight the current you will tire
rapidly and may lose the ability to keep your head up.
Rips do not flow indefinitely, they lose power within 5-40
metres though this may seem a long way when you're trapped there,
but just go with the flow. When the drag loosens, swim a few metres
parallel to the beach i.e. perpendicular/away from the rip and then a safe return
will be relatively easy.
Alternatively, calmly wave a hand and call for help, perhaps
from a surfer.
UK. Brighton on the south coast of England and an hour's train ride from London is a famously colourful and bohemian gay town, perhaps the UK's most LGBT-friendly region. Brighton's main beach and pier are a popular, down-market but fun tourist destination while the beaches are covered by smooth pebbles. Gays tend to head south of the Kemptown area to a nudist beach, West Beach, Telscombe Cliffs Shoreham and Duke's Mound.
Spain. Sitges, on the coast just south of bouncing Barcelona, is a busy little area that's been gay for many years. Playa de la Bassa Rodona is one gay drop zone though it's shared with the straight community. Nudists are better off at Playa del Muerto (playing dead?) or Playa de las Balmins.
Spain's Ibiza island in the Mediterranean is another wild place. Party central since Beatles roamed the earth,
Ibiza also hosts some fine beaches including Es Cavallet's nude and gay-populated strand in the south of the island, Port des Torrent, and Ses Salinas for beach bars.
Greece's Mykonos island is another superb, well-known gay holiday destination and the lovely Super Paradise beach is where to hang out, even if it is a bit remote and stony, while Elia further along the coast is positively awash with gays. Personal transport is useful, whether cars or scooters though little ferry boats make runs from main towns - but not much past sunset.
France. Nice on the Côte d'Azur is apparently the country's second LGBT destination after Paris, though it's a city visibly busy with regular tourists but also hosting some lively LGBT clubs and bars. Nice is large but attractive with pleasant shopping areas in both new and old towns, plenty of magnificent eating spots and of course the superb Promenade des Anglais lined with pebble beaches.
Coco and Castel beaches are the best known gay strips.
Beach Hazards EU Blue Flag beaches
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