Finding the perfect beach for a relaxing vacation can be daunting — especially if you want to avoid a crowd. But don’t lose hope! Dig a little deeper across the globe’s sunny coastlines and you’ll find a number of shores to peacefully unwind on a secluded stretch of sand and savor the moment.
Read on to discover these six pristine beaches, and if you do plan a visit, pack plenty of water, food, sunscreen and any other necessities — reaching the more hidden beaches and coves may require a lengthy hike far from modern conveniences.
As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.
Butterfly Valley; Fethiye, Turkey
Reachable by boat, Butterfly Valley — a narrow valley carved between steep mountains — is home to more than 100 species of butterflies and was declared a conservation area in 1987 to preserve this untouched slice of nature.
The valley sprawls out to the sea, ending with a white sand beach. In addition to a couple of small waterfalls, the valley is full of a variety of trees, including olive, peach, pomegranate, orange and oleander.
Nyang Nyang Beach; Uluwatu, Bali
No signs or clear land markers offer directions to this hidden white sand beach on Bali, which keeps the number of people at Nyang Nyang Beach to a few. The 1.5-kilometer beach lies a short distance southeast of Uluwatu Temple, and intrepid beachgoers make a steep 20- to 30-minute descent down towering cliffs to reach the sand.
Vendors selling snacks, coconut water and water are located at the top and bottom of the jungled hillside, but it’s recommended you pack whatever you need for a perfect day at the beach, including a sturdy pair of shoes.
Big waves draw surfers, but this beach has its share of sharp rocks and rock pools, so swimming here is not recommended — there are no lifeguards. And if you’re looking for the perfect Instagram shot, take a selfie by the half-buried shipwreck decorated with colorful graffiti.
Llandudno Beach; Cape Town, South Africa
Although it’s located in one of the most desirable residential areas in Cape Town, Llandudno Beach does not have streetlights, shops or restaurants. So before hitting the sand, pack anything you may need for the day.
Soak in views of the beach’s soft white sand and sparkling turquoise ocean as you walk along the pathway down to the shore. Surrounded by mountains and large granite boulders, the beach is a popular spot with locals for surfing, bodyboarding, beach games, picnics and sundowners.
Swimming is dangerous due to the strong current and extremely cold waters. Lifeguards are only on duty during the summer when you’ll also find vendors walking along the beach selling ice cream and cold drinks.
Kauapea Beach; Kauai, Hawaii
While visiting Kauai, don sturdy shoes and brave a 15-minute hike to experience Secret Beach in Kalihiwai Bay on the north shore of the island. Officially known as Kauapea Beach, this 3,000-foot stretch of sand is known for its privacy and scenery — electric blue waters and soft brown sand surrounded by lush greenery.
In the summer you may see whales or dolphins swimming offshore; however, the rough waves at this unguarded beach are not suitable for swimming. From the beach, follow the rocky coastline to the east (right) that leads to a beautiful waterfall and tidal lagoons where you can take a dip to rinse the salt and sand off your body.
Although this section of the beach is a popular nude sunbathing spot, dress appropriately; sometimes Kauai County authorities attempt to enforce the nudity ban.
Praia da Salema; Algarve, Portugal
Praia da Salema has largely escaped tourists because it’s located within the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park. Dotted with whitewashed houses trimmed in blue (to ward off evil spirits), this fishing village boasts a half-mile-long beach, ideal for swimming and windsurfing.
Take in Salema’s calm beauty with a stroll along the shoreline and watch the crystal-clear waves wash ashore, leaving small shells behind on the golden sand. Don’t leave the beach without checking out the yellow limestone rocks pocked with dinosaur footprints left approximately 150 million years ago.
Praia da Galheta; Florianopolis, Brazil
The capital of the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, most of which is on Santa Caterina Island, is dotted with 42 beaches, including Praia da Galheta, a clothing-optional, gay-friendly stretch of sand. Praia da Galheta is a 15-minute drive from the island’s city center, or beachgoers already sunning on adjacent Praia Mole can hike 10 minutes along a rocky (sometimes muddy) path. The trek to this sprawling beach is worth it!
Praia da Galheta’s secluded cove is a quiet alternative to the lively, hip crowd of surfers that converge on Praia Mole. At the end of the day, stop by Bar do Deca, which sits between the two beaches. The bar’s friendly vibe makes it the cool place to hang out to catch a jaw-dropping sunset while enjoying a cold beer or boozy caipirinha.
By Kwin Mosby For JW Marriot Bonvoy Traveller