Summer means beaches. Everyone knows this— which is why, every time I go to the beach, instead of languishing pleasantly in the hot hot heat with a margarita by my side, I end up spending my time fighting with the 500 other beach-goers for a good spot. I want the crisp water to wash away the cares of the world. Instead, I find myself caring all too much… about not getting hit in the head with a frisbee.
The good news is that not every beach in the world is as busy as Coney Island on the Fourth of July. In fact, there are a whole slew of amazingly exotic secret beaches all over the world, ones that very few people have heard of. These aren’t just your every-day beaches— these are top quality ocean-side-spots that offer everything from scuba diving through shipwrecks, to pirate coves, to green sand. That’s right: green sand. I highly recommend giving this list a look-through and then, perhaps, booking the next flight out. Don’t worry: I’m including lots of deals to make the temptation even more irresistible
1. Ibo Island, Mozambique
WHY SHOULD I VISIT: Found within the Quirimbas Archipelago (a UNESCO World Heritage site off the coast of Africa), Ibo Island is a dramatically unique island within a sea of biodiversity. The tourism industry is almost completely absent here and you can stroll the quiet streets while you visit the remnants of the colonial age. The real draw to this Island is the scuba diving: not only is there an amazing array of sea life, but there are also shipwrecks littering the sea floor! How cool. Make sure to bring fins with you; you won’t want to get out of the gorgeous water. Get free shipping if you buy them through House of Scuba.
HOW SHOULD I GET THERE: The easiest way to visit Ibo Island is by flight from Tanzania. Air Mozambique flies between Dar and Pemba daily. If you choose to stay at the Ibo Island Lodge, they offer travel packages as well as intimate accommodation when you choose one of their nine rooms.
2. Cirali Beach, Turkey
WHY SHOULD I VISIT: There’s much to be found at Cirali Beach. Development has been kept in check due to the thriving population of endangered Sea Turtles, meaning that the old-school Turkish culture has been largely preserved. Local perks: a small beach village that features a restaurant amid a waterfall, treehouses, and beach shacks. A short distance away is the Chimaera, a natural gas flame that springs from Olimpos National Park. If you decide to visit in August, you may seem thousands of baby seas turtles hatch and return to the ocean.
HOW SHOULD I GET THERE: Cirali is an hour drive away from the resort area of Antalya. Year round flights to Antalya are available from Thomas Cook, Thomson and the Turkish Airline Pegasus. Summer season flights are also available from Monarach and Easyjet. Fly into Antalya and make the hour drive to Cirali to get away from the crowds. Use Goodshop to book your hotel through Expedia to save up to twenty percent. Stay at the local Kibala Hotel for delectable Turkish cuisine and cozy bungalows in a truly relaxing setting.
3. Cayucos Beach, California
WHY SHOULD I VISIT: No list of beaches would be complete without a surf spot. That is what you will discover at Cayucos Beach in California. Just 210 miles north of Los Angeles, Cayucos is home to small town America and some classic west coast icons: surfers and a pier that stretches nearly 1,000 feet into the ocean. It is also a hop, skip and a jump away from many central coast explorations: Paso Robles wine country, Hearst Castle and the quaint seaside town of Cambira are all a short drive up HWY 1.
HOW SHOULD I GET THERE: Stay at the restored Cass House Inn 7 Restaurant after you drive up HWY 1 from L.A. Enjoy the food from The Grill to get your body energized for the surfing and save twenty percent on surf gear from Roxy when you use a Goodshop exclusive deal.
4. Papakolea Beach, Hawaii
WHY SHOULD I VISIT: Also known as Green Sand Beach, Papakolea Beach is at the top of my bucket list. The green color comes from eruptions from what used to be a cinder cone volcano. The volcano is currently in the process of being washed away by the sea— which means that you will be swimming into the middle of an extinct volcano. Doesn’t that sound neat? Not only does the beach look like it is on a different planet because of the green sand, but also it takes a true adventurer to get there. It is a 2.5 hour drive from most resorts on the big island and then a 2.5 mile hike out to the beach. This is a strenuous hike; a camelback and good hiking boots are really important. Goodshop at REI and get free shipping.
WHERE SHOULD I STAY: The closest place to stay is the Macadamia Meadows Farm Bed & Breakfast. A great place to stay to see dramatic coastline, crashing waves and expressions of Hawaii’s unusual landscapes such as Papakolea Beach.
5. North Berwick, UK
WHY SHOULD I VISIT: This dramatic coastline is found on the Scottish coast next to a small seaside town. In North Berwick you can stay at the Open Arms Hotel which is opposite the 13th Century Dirleton Castle and Gardens. North Berwick is known as the place to go to escape the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh – the Scottish Capital.
HOW SHOULD I GET THERE: I recommend flying into Edinburgh and exploring the city known as “Athens of the West” for a few days before making the hour drive out to North Berwick. Come for the sea food, the outstanding golf courses and to experience the ancient history of the town. Leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. By using Goodshop to book flights though Travelocity, you can save up to twenty percent and also get a free 3.5% donation to the non-profit of your choice. When playing golf with the Scots remember to keep your head down and follow through.
6. Lord Howe Island, Australia
WHY SHOULD I VISIT: Lord Howe Island is one of the best kept secrets that Australia has to offer. A short two hour flight from Sydney, the World Heritage site boasts basalt-stack mountains that tower over pristine beaches. Take the challenging climb to the top for staggering views. Visitors are limited to 400 at a time, so you almost feel like you have the vibrant coral reef to yourself and the fish while snorkeling. At Ned’s beach you can hand feed the king-fish (known only to Lord Howe Island). Make sure you also visit Old Settlement Beach and laze in the sand with the turtles.
WHERE SHOULD I STAY: Stay at the Capella Lodge, enjoy the spa and the views from atop Lover’s Bay. Flights into Sydney and Lord Howe Island can be a little on the pricey side, so make sure you use this coupon and save forty percent. Then you can splurge for the massage at the Capella Lodge.
7. Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam
WHY SHOULD I VISIT: Welcome to one of the most secluded Islands in Vietnam. Relax in a guesthouse that opens onto a 12 mile long (and empty) vanilla white sand shore. Eat locally caught seafood that will be grilled for you at your table. This island has seen little of the tourism industry boom and has only 100,000 residents— so you are guaranteed a stretch of beach to yourself.
HOW SHOULD I GET THERE: There are only 10 flights to the island from Ho Chi Minh City and a small selection of places to stay once you arrive. The La Veranda Resort is definitely the most luxurious offering with its sea facing villas that have lofted ceilings and spacious bathrooms. The concierge can arrange a number of excursions including night time squid fishing as well as snorkeling or diving excursions. You can save up to fifty percent on your booking, making Vietnam one of the more affordable locations on this list.
8. Bethany Beach, Delaware
WHY SHOULD I VISIT: One of the most family friendly beaches in America, Bethany Beach is home to a classic American boardwalk, dozens of large beach houses available to rent out for family reunions, and a 7 mile long beach so you don’t have to fight other families for easy access to the ocean. The nearby sheltered bay means you can try out your new sailing gear without worrying about the roughness of the ocean.
9. Palm Beach, Barbuda
WHY SHOULD I VISIT: Quite possibly the one of the sexiest beaches in the Caribbean, this is one of the most romantic islands in the world. It is truly a destination for solitude seekers, as there are only a few resorts that dot the Island of Barbuda. And yes: the water really is that blue. Come here with your lover and you will find there is little to distract you from each other: pink sand beaches, palm trees, 170 endangered bird species and great snorkeling.
WHERE SHOULD I STAY: Stay at the Lightouse Bay Resort, and contemplate the wonders of nature as the sun causes the azure water to sparkle in the absolute serenity. Cheap Caribbean specializes in adult-only getaways: book through them to guarantee your time away from the kids.
10. Agonda Beach, Goa, India
WHY SHOULD I VISIT: It has always been a dream of mine to stay in a hut that opens up onto the beach. To open my eyes and to not have to leave my bed in order to see the sand and ocean. That is what you will find at Agonda Beach. Agonda Beach is surrounded by laid back village life, features great surfing for the experienced and an overabundance of wildlife. Make sure you bring a good book or two (or 15 on your NOOK) with you as this paradise is a little bit out of the way.
HOW SHOULD I GET THERE: The Dabolim airport is about a 90-minute drive away. Agonda, by road is 15 minutes from the more famous, busy Palolem beach. Taxis and auto rickshaws can be taken as a more comfortable and quicker alternative to the public bus. Ask any rickshaw driver or taxi driver and they will take you there from Palolem, Patnem or Chaudi. Agonda beach was made for reading in the sun.
11. Anse Source d’Argent, Seychelles
WHY SHOULD I VISIT: Few people make the long haul out to this pristine beach. Result: empty ocean that is protected by a large reef, which makes for great swimming and snorkeling. Even the locals travel by bike to help maintain the unspoiled natural environment within this archipelago. Plus, you can take amazingly dramatic photos by the massive granite boulders at sunset after a day of swimming with the colorful fish through the reef. Instagram Perfect.
HOW SHOULD I GET THERE: Airlines serving the Seychelles include Emirates, Etihad, Ethopian, Air France, Thomas Cook/Condor, Air Seychelles, Transaero, Meridiana, Air Mauritius, Air Austral, and Kenya Airways. Fly into Mahe Island and take the ferry to Le Digue Island. The closest thing to a resort is the 19th century colonial house Le Digue Island Lodge. Get there, and your cares of the world will drop away. Experience bliss, solitude and absolute leisure.