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Where Are the World's Best Beaches?

Updated on March 30, 2019
Stella Kaye profile image

Stella has written a collection of childhood memoirs, some of which are travel related and others about growing up in Plymouth, Devon, UK

The Ideal Beach

Anfi beach Gran Canaria. Canary Islands
Anfi beach Gran Canaria. Canary Islands | Source

Beaches With the Prestigious Blue Flag Award are Immaculate

Anyone like me who hails from the South West of England might argue that the world’s best beaches are all to be found in Cornwall - between Padstow and Newquay on Cornwall’s Atlantic coastline to be precise. No wonder it is known as 'the Cornish Riviera.'

I spent many a lazy summer’s day on the wild and windswept beaches of Cornwall and they are indeed the best you can find. Cornwall, being a peninsular has a continuous coastline of some 258 miles and it would be hard to find such a high concentration of sandy bays elsewhere, each offering individual attractions; Cornish beaches are hard to beat.

On arrival at Newquay airport the visitor to the region can discover at least twelve excellent beaches nearby which are as good as any beach in the world can be. There is fine quality sand, rock pools and caves for the kids, Atlantic breakers to please the surfers and even Rick Stein has got on the bandwagon with his famous seafood restaurant located in the quaint fishing village of Padstow.

To name but one beach in this area, there is Constantine Bay which sweeps round in a spectacular curve, still as natural and relatively unspoiled as in the reputed days of King Arthur. Sand dunes and wild grass give an interesting backdrop to the beach and the view over towards the lighthouse and Dinas head is breathtaking.

There is just one slight hitch with these perfect beaches – the inclement British weather. Now if you were to tow the British Isles several thousand miles further south west and instantly add another island to the Canary Archipelago this would provide an immediate solution to the problem. Everyone loves a bit of sunshine and although Cornwall gets its fair share compared to the rest of Britain. it can never quite compete with Lanzarote however good the shoreline.

Being born in the sea-faring city of Plymouth has given me a zest for travel like Sir Francis Drake, Sir Robert Falcon Scott and The Pilgrim Fathers before me but I doubt that they ever went in search of the world’s best beaches as I have.

My own search has come up with a few likely candidates for the best beach in the world which were only selected through personal choice and may or may not meet with anyone else’s criteria. I bought a vacation home in Morocco because I liked the beach as well as the apartment and the long stretches of sand in Tunisia are also firm favourites of mine. The secluded coves found in Greece also top my personal list. Purely for their uniqueness of landscape, the beaches in Soufrière Bay on the Caribbean island of St Lucia also have to be in the running. Here you can see the twin peaks of ‘The pitons’ which are two volcanic cones rising sheer from the tropical coastline. They are now a designated world heritage site.

I usually go for the desolate away-from-it-all places with outstanding natural scenery - so sorry. Benidorm, Miami, Rimini and Copacabana: you are not on my list. I think it’s all to do with watching the film: ‘One Million Years BC’ when I was a child. I thought: hey, that’s a nice beach - pterodactyls aside. I have only found out recently that the place where the movie was made is actually a real beach and not another shaky facade from Hammer Films after all. It is a genuine location on none other than previously mentioned Lanzarote. ‘El Golfo’ with its unique emerald lagoon is set in an amazing volcanic landscape of black and golden sand.

So forget those Devon cream teas, Cornish pasties and the excessive English rainfall; a few hours flying time from Exeter and you can be sunning yourself on a Lanzarote's finest beaches, sipping sangria and tucking into tasty tapas.

Devon folk at the time of the Armada would never have thought future generations would willingly succumb to all things Spanish in search of better weather and dear old Sir Francis Drake would not exactly be bowled over if he knew that ferries packed with tourists now leave Plymouth Hoe for Santander on a regular basis. We Brits can’t help it - our thirst for sunshine and sangria is just too much.

Sun, Sand, Sea and Sangria!

Anfi beach, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands
Anfi beach, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands | Source

Read All the Recommendations but Your Personal Preference Counts Too

Many folk are happy to spend their vacation on a beach so packed with people that the sand is hardly noticeable and if that is what you want then fair enough, but this is a world away from nature lovers who don't want to mingle or people watch. Those Robinson Crusoe types who want a whole beach to themselves will have to be a bit more discerning in their search but it still is possible to find a beach where you can imagine you are the only person on the planet or find a spot to sunbathe nude or make love with your partner on the sands knowing you won't acquire an unwelcome audience. Photographers too who want to take landscape shots will not relish the thought of a beach full of people milling around like ants. Kids are probably the easiest to please for once as they can spend all day in the sun with their buckets and spades as long as the sand is of reasonable quality to build a castle and the ice cream van is not too far away.

A Deserted Beach on the Algarve, Portugal

The Algarve has some  magnificent coves
The Algarve has some magnificent coves | Source

Check Out the Best Beaches in the World!

TripAdvisor have recently named the top twenty five beaches in the world so beach lovers take a look and make one of them your next destination!

Best Beaches Video by National Geographic

More Best Beaches!

The Dunes of Maspalomas, Gran Canaria

The dunes and nature reserve at Maspalomas, Gran Canaria
The dunes and nature reserve at Maspalomas, Gran Canaria | Source

What Makes a Person Decide Which Beaches Qualify as the Best in the World?

It can depend on a number of points. As stated previously the more remote and desolate a place, the more it appeals to me but then you have a problem with accessibility and a distinct lack of facilities.

Most tourists will want safe bathing in a clean environment and a memorable place to spend a holiday. Cleanliness has to be a number one priority and there are an increasing number of ‘Blue Flag’ beaches worldwide that uphold excellent standards. At time of writing there are 3450 beaches that have been awarded this coveted title. The rigid criteria a beach has to comply with to be selected covers thirty two aspects which include safety, water quality and environmental impact. Beaches are only awarded the title for a single season so there can be no better incentive to uphold these standards and thus continue competing for the best beach in the world.

Cornwall actually has six ‘Blue flag’ beaches - see, I was right all along, but according to statistics, Spain easily tops the league with 520; Greece comes in at second with 412 and Turkey, third at 311. Portugal has 242 and Italy 230. From these figures alone it is clear that those countries with a Mediterranean seaboard could easily win the award for being home to the world’s best beaches and are comparable to those places only accessible by long haul travel.

Wherever you travel in the world you will find a beach to suit you but remember to dispose of your rubbish carefully and respect your surroundings.Plastic pollution as well as being an eyesore that will spoil any beautiful beach is a major threat to the world's ecological balance and can be lethal to sea birds and marine life. If the delicate balance between man and the environment is maintained, such places will be better preserved for wildlife to thrive and future generations to enjoy.

Even a Pebbly Beach has its Appeal

Beach in  Madeira, Atlantic Ocean
Beach in Madeira, Atlantic Ocean | Source

© 2016 Stella Kaye


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