Life is better at the beach. If you’re feeling the winter gloom, start planning a summer trip now with this guide to the 10 beaches you have to see next year.
1. Cala Soraja, Italy
This small beach in Sardinia, Italy, is only reachable by boat – and if I had to choose only one beach to visit for the rest of my life it would be Cala Soraja.
On the small island of Spargi, Cala Soraja is part of the Italian National Park of La Maddalena, meaning the whole area is protected; no fishing, littering or polluting is allowed in the park. When you pair that up with an entirely uninhabited island the atmosphere is truly magical. Imagine white sand, pink granite rocks and water so clear that, on the seabed, you can see the shadows of boats anchored offshore.
2. Playa Ancon, Cuba
Cuba is still an underrated beach destination. Lots of travellers, myself included, go to Cuba to see the coloured colonial houses of Havana, the green valley of Vinales and the historical museums about the Cuban revolution.
In 10 days in Cuba I only spent 1 at the beach and I'm very glad I did. The Northern shore of Varadero is famous for its beaches – but the experience is similar to plenty of other places around the globe. Instead, discover the southern shores by Trinidad, where you'll find the beautiful Playa Ancon.
There you'll find a beach 2km long, with only two hotels – so not many tourists – close by. Playa Ancon is a local haven: residents will try to sell you fish they've caught just that morning.
As if that wasn't enough, Playa Ancon's white sand, crystal clear turquoise water and palm trees add to its profound beauty.
3. Isla Saona, Dominican Republic
Isla Saona in the Dominican Republic fulfils every Caribbean beach stereotype you can think of. White sand? Check. Clear Turquoise water? Check. Palm trees? Check. Local guys offering you lobsters and rum drinks? Check.
The journey to get there is pretty long – 1 hour by speedboat from La Romana – but well worth it. The beach is tourist-ready so you'll find umbrellas and sunbeds lined up on the beach, if that's your thing. If not, you can just enjoy the wilderness and natural beauty of the beach while you lie on the soft white sand.
A popular beach, Isla Saona will get very busy as the day goes on so make sure to get there early in the morning if you want to enjoy a bit of untouched Caribbean paradise.
4. Watamu Marine National Park, Kenya
When you think of Kenya what's the first thing you think of? If you’re like me, it's safaris, lions and big red sunrises on the savannah.
I wouldn’t think of beaches – but in Watamu Marine National Park, close to Malindi, you'll find an especially beautiful beach. There are also three coral reefs just off the shore where you can go both snorkeling and scuba diving.
5. Gili Trawangan, Indonesia
The island of Gili Trawangan in Indonesia is the ultimate example of chill island vibes. It's entirely pedestrian, with horse carriages and bicycles the only mode of transport around the island.
Gili Trawangan has one huge beach along its coast and you'll easily find shops that rent snorkeling gear or organize tours to see the island's turtles.
And if swimming with turtles is on your bucket list, Gili Trawangan is the place to do it. Even without doing a tour, we were lucky enough to see lots of them swimming just 20 meters off the shore, right in front of our hotel.
6. Maya Bay, Thailand
Have you ever seen the movie The Beach with Leonardo di Caprio? That's Maya Bay.
You can only get to Maya Bay by boat, entering either by the main lagoon or, if your boat drops you off on the other side of the island, by climbing up a rope ladder and walking through palm trees till you reach the beach.If you go for the latter, that journey alone is worth the visit to Maya Bay: it feels like a real adventure, and you'll enjoy relaxing on the beach even more when you get there.
Maya Bay is also a great spot for snorkeling and lots of fish can be found in its waters.
7. Lavezzi in Corsica, France
Just off the southern coast of Corsica you'll find Lavezzi, a beautiful island and protected national park. Here you can happily snorkel with thousands of fish; they aren't afraid of people. If you’re feeling adventurous Lavezzi is also characterised by its unusual granite rock formations, which you can climb to reach a viewpoint with breathtaking vistas.
8. Tulum, Mexico
Tulum is an extraordinary beach in Mexico, where Mayan ruins dot the coastline. On a trip to Tulum you can learn about the history of the Mayan population, visiting the ruins along the coast, and then cool off from the Mexican heat with a well-deserved beach break.
The oceanic waves make the water close to shore slightly less clear but if you swim out you'll be in some of the most beautiful water in the world and, if you’re lucky enough, you'll maybe even spot a few turtles.
9. Mirtos Beach, Greece
Mirtos Beach regularly ranks among the world's top beaches, and with good reason.
It’s located in the north-west of the island of Kefalonia, in Greece, and its surrounded by high hills and cliffs. When you first approach via the hills, you'll see it from above: you can’t tell from the distance but the beach isn’t sandy. The 'white sand' that you can see are actually small rocks.
Those white rocks have been smoothed by the wind and waves over time, so they make for a comfy – and unusual – makeshift bed.
10. Red Sands Beach, Iceland
To finish: a different kind of beach. Rauðasandur (that's Red Sands Beach) in Iceland is – you guessed it – covered in red sand.
10km long and surrounded on all sides by the high cliffs, you'll find Rauðasandur among the fjords typical of this part of the country. When we visited in August, we were the only people there; other than a small group of seals relaxing on the shore, we were completely alone.
Traveling this summer? Sign up free with TRVL and earn a commission on every hotel booking you make.Learn more
If you think we've missed something from the list, get in touch. For more from Greta, see her website.