Throwback to Rachel’s top 5 beaches in 2014. Where will feature in the 2019 edition?
I haven’t been everywhere in the world. So this list won’t feature the usual beaches Lonely Planet rate as their top 5. It’s my list, of the 5 best beaches around the world that I have been to and I have found it special in some way.
I don’t tend to care so much about the water. I can’t swim so at best I go in up to my knees. Then I start freaking out because some seaweed touched me (don’t judge!). So my favourite beaches are mostly based on the vibe and character of the township. With special mentions for how awesome the people are who live there!
The best beaches around the world
Let the best beaches around the world list commence now!
Ko Lanta, Krabi, Thailand
I’ve been to Thailand many times now, so I like to get out and explore the lesser-known beaches as much as possible. Sure I love spending time in Phuket for the heaving nightlife, abundance of restaurants and cheap shopping. But it’s Thailand’s smaller beaches that really get to my heart. I like to think that these beaches are like Patong was 30 years ago.
Beachside shack style restaurants serving fried rice and Thai curry for 70B. Chilled beers for 30B and a view that is priceless.
Book into Bee Bee Bungalows for something different they only have 13 different shacks to rent at around $10 a night. Do not expect The Ritz, but enjoy your lizard companions and the odd spider on your bed. You cannot book in advance, so you can’t be too picky about the room type. But if you’re looking for something different, this beachfront property can’t be beaten. The staff are fantastic, and the reggae music pumps all day!
Sure, you will bump into other travellers. After all, nothing good stays a secret for long. But the beauty of these beaches is that there is no Hilton, Novatel or other chain hotel taking up prime position on the beach. It’s all guest houses (hot water showers optional) and locally run 2-3 star properties. Bliss!
Copacabana Beach, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Even before the Football world cup 2014 was announced for Brazil, Rio had been a playground for sun-seekers. The main tourist areas of Copacabana and Ipanema Beach are where most tan lines are made. With the streets behind busting with juice shops, restaurants and clothing stores. Crime rates are down, and the streets are safe. The economy is up, so don’t expect too many bargains. The main meal in most restaurants is still $20-$30AUD with a beer around $7+.
Rent a chair on the beach for around $10 a day and have ice cold beers delivered for around $6 a can.
Check out the Ipanema Beach markets held every Sunday afternoon on the back streets of Ipanema. Buy local artworks and crafts to take home and stock up on Havaiana thongs!
Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia
Australia has a LOT of nice beaches.
Picking one would never be easy- but I have gone with “The Goldie” as it is affectionately called because of its standing as a tourist destination. It’s Australia’s biggest beach holiday spot drawing in more than 10 million tourists (domestic and international) each year.
The array of accommodation options is fantastic with kilometres of the coastline dotted with apartment buildings and hotel rooms. Check into Broadbeach if you’re looking for something a bit more “upmarket” and peaceful. Surfers Paradise is great for couples and groups of friends and heads slightly north of Surfers if you have a young family looking for a bargain hotel.
Just down the road is a handful of amusement parks, keeping kids and adults entertained for at least a week! The 3 park super pass gives fantastic value for those looking to visit SeaWorld, Wet and Wild and Movie World. Get entry into all three parks for just $129.
The Dreamworld and Whitewater World pass is around the same price. But keep in mind Dreamworld is the biggest park and it takes almost a full day to visit all of the rides.
The Gold Coast is best visited year-round, but be wary, their summer months (Dec-Feb) are often monsoon-like. You can get a mid-afternoon downpour. The temperature barely drops below 20 degrees Celsius year-round- So break out that Bikini!
Dahab, Sinai, Egypt
While the beach is no longer the most amazing. The coral that once flourished, is now mostly bleached and/or broken.
The township is still a fantastic drawcard for those wanting a beach destination in Egypt without the masses in Sharm El Shiekh down the road. You can pick up a cheap room in a guesthouse for around $30 a night. It’s even cheaper if you get one with a cold shower. So it makes a great budget destination.
Scuba diving in the Red Sea is also super cheap. It’s around 40 Euros for a discover scuba dive and 270 euros for your 3 day PADI open water course.
Nearby is the Blue Hole, one of nature’s wonders, a 130-meter deep hole in the earth, popular with snorkelers and advanced divers.
I loved how chilled out the staff were, especially at Funny Mummy restaurant. The weather is fantastic, and the beers are cold! You can go horseback riding, quad biking and sailing in the region, it’s not just the poor man’s Sharm El Sheik!
Egypt is often a bit shaky, so check the situation before you travel, and be wary. The protests may block public bus travel for several days so plan according.
And my number 1 best beach in the world is….
Playa Del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Mexico
I’ll consider Tulum and Cancun both under the Playa banner for the purpose of this article. Only because the entire coastline from Tulum to Cancun is absolutely stunning!!! I had seen pictures of the area before I visited, and hand on heart thought they were all photoshopped. That is until I got there and saw for myself. The water really is that beautiful turquoise blue, and the sand is crystal white.
Tulum was the quietest beach, lovely, but staying in town meant you were a good 10 minutes away from the beach. Not advisable. Great for backpackers or those looking for something a bit more “authentic”. There are several amazing Eco Lodges lining the beach, and at reasonable prices.
Playa Del Carmen was my favourite of the three beaches. Sure it was packed with American Cruise liners from Cozumel, and the mega-resorts that took up a big chunk of the coastline with all-inclusive offerings. But the township part, the main drag of Playa was great! There were tacky souvenir shops galore with a smattering of clothing shops and US labels. But it was really nice to wander down the street without being hassled. Book in here if you are on a honeymoon, or travelling with your family.
Cancun was different. The mega-resorts not only lined the beaches but also cut them off to non-guests. The beach was fantastic, but unless you were staying in a mega-resort, you have to walk down a dirty alleyway to get to the sand. Cancun is best for groups of friends and people looking to party (head to Coco Bongo and Dady’O for a mega-club atmosphere) again, the resorts are mostly all-inclusive.
What is on your best beaches around the world?
Read more about my favourite beach destinations below!
Three things to do in Viñales Cuba for under $10, hint- Beach 😉
Where to stay in the Cook Islands