Beaches are beautiful. People, not so much. The trouble is, you can’t have one without the other. The sweeter the sands, the higher the body count, right?
If you’re searching for the perfect beach – a place to call your own, if only for one day – you’re in luck. It turns out that hidden beaches are like the Days of Christmas: you wait all year for one, and then 12 rock up in rapid succession. Here are a dozen beaches that are unspoilt, unpopulated and relatively unknown – for now.
Of course, if bloggers keep writing about these unsung wonders, they won’t remain hidden for long. So by all means tell all your friends about this blog – but make them swear not to breathe a word of it to anyone else.
Polihale Beach, Kauai
Beaches and sand are kind of synonymous, but Polihale has more grains than most. Its 100-foot dunes are every bit as impressive as the shore, surf and steep cliffs that herald the westernmost point of Hawaii’s oldest island. In the sedimentary hierarchy, sand beats dirt every time. To reach Polihale Beach however you’ll need a bit of both: head to Koloa and then follow the dirt road. As part of Barking Sands Beach, Polihale runs for 17 miles. That’s a lot of sand, most of which will later be tipped out of your trainers.
Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam
Thailand’s beaches are instantly recognisable by their palm-fringed shores and slightly rude names. The island of Phu Quoc is known for three things – its military presence, fish sauce and quiet beaches. Never mind the former two – they’re not worth crossing the globe for. The eye-wateringly bright sands of Phu Quoc, however, are something special. Nothing has ever felt this good between your toes. Nothing.
Benagil Sea Caves, Portugal
When is a beach not a beach? When it’s a cave. A sea-hewn chamber doesn’t get to be this photogenic without alerting the world, but as not-so-secret beaches go, Benagil is still remarkably untrodden. At Praia de Benagil, it’s possible to rent a boat and explore these Instagramatically perfect caves.
Anse Source d’Argent, Seychelles
When a beach is billed as ‘unspoilt’, it generally means a paucity of people and plastic. That pretty much describes Anse Source d’Argent. Don’t go there because of what’s it’s not, however: go there for what it’s got. Huge granite rocks, secluded nooks, deliciously warm waters and a reef that’s begging to be snorkelled. Head to the beach at first light and the only company you’ll have will be a few seabirds and the odd tortoise. Is there a bad beach on the Seychelles? If there is, Anse Source d’Argent ain’t it.
Aside from a preponderance of sand, the main thing that denotes a beach is land on one side and sea on the other. How to explain the Marietas Islands then? All sea, all sand, all land – all around.
In recent years, these Mexican islands have become internet famous. In real life, thankfully, they are still blissfully quiet. As the web would have it, these unique craters were formed by munitions testing in the early 20th century. As other parts of the web would have, bombs had nothing to do with it – these babies were made by nature. Which side is right? Form your own opinion. This is the internet after all, where if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that we can’t agree on anything.
Lord Howe Island, Australia
If the prospect of exploring a coral reef, watching sea turtles and hand-feeding kingfish doesn’t sound enticing, you clearly hate nature and would be happier visiting an urban beach formed by a truckload of sand being dumped in a concrete housing estate. If you’re down with Mother Nature however, Lord Howe Island has it all – volcanic mountains, rugged shores and big skies. A two-hour flight from Sydney, the island places a cap on tourists, with just 400 allowed to visit at a time. Such exclusivity. Very nature. Wow.
Agonda Beach, Goa
Like most idyllic spots, Goa was amazing until a bunch of people went there and now it’s still-pretty-awesome-but-not-quite-as-good-as-it-once-was. Away from the all-night raves and Western hordes, Goa still radiates an ethereal beauty that guidebooks can’t do justice. Agonda Beach is as gorgeous by starlight as it is by sunlight, but only one of these things will grant you a tan.
Colombier Beach, St. Bart’s
What is it with the world’s best secret beaches being stashed away on the edge of civilisation? Oh yeah, because otherwise they wouldn’t be the world’s greatest hidden beaches. Take Colombier Beach for example. Sure, it’s hella nice – golden sands, turquoise water, all that jazz – but that’s not what makes it so esoteric. No, Colombier makes the list because only determined holidaymakers need apply.
To get there, you’ve got two options (three if you have an uncle who owns a seaplane): follow a rocky goat trail for 25 minutes, or moor your private boat in the bay and swim ashore. A picnic is mandatory; clothes are optional. This far from civilisation, only military satellites can spy you, and even then you’ll look pretty grainy. Must be all that sand.
Another pristine Hawaiian beach, Molokai epitomises the islands at their best: remote and devoid of manmade clutter. Out here, it’s just you, the elements and a big bunch of pretty. If you relish solitude, you’ll be in great company. That said, you can always do the pretty and peaceful by day; a luxury Hawaii holiday home will provide the party by night.
Playa Medina, Venezuela
Since the advent of Google Maps, nothing can claim to be truly hidden. Every beach is findable if you’re persistent enough – just follow the coast. Playa Medina may be easy to pinpoint, but it’ll take more than a long-haul flight to get there.
After arriving in the Venezuelan capital, you’ll need to drive for another ten hours or catch an internal flight then hire a car. Your reward? Palm trees, pure shores and just enough humanity to rustle up a small restaurant and a handful of beach bungalows. That’ll do nicely.
Oswald West State Park, Oregon Coast
When was the last time you saw someone retreat into the woods with a surfboard? In Oswald West State Park, surfers and birdwatchers walk hand-in-hand – or in close proximity at least – for 15 minutes before the thick woodland suddenly gives way to a delightful secluded cove. Good effort, nature.
Strip to your smalls at Lofoten and there’s a good chance you’ll freeze. What Norway’s northern islands may lack in degrees celsius they more than make up for in jaw-gaping beauty however. Utakleiv, on Lofoten, has been voted Europe’s most romantic beach, unless you’re a foreveralone, in which case it’s Europe’s loneliest. Still, we can all dream of finding that perfect someone to share the perfect moment on the shores of Lofoten.