World Championship of Beaches put 32 beaches head to head in June. Here’s the official rundown of the top 10
Whenever we run an article on the best beaches in the world, it sparks a lot of debate on social media. People seem to get very passionate about which beach they think is best. So in June 2020, we decided to run a contest to prove, finally, which it was. From a shortlist suggested on our social channels, we whittled the competition down to 32 finalists who faced off in a classic tournament format until we had a winner. Here’s the countdown of what turned out to be the strongest ten.
10. Flamenco Beach, Puerto Rico
With barely a wave breaking on its crescent of pure, white sand, this gorgeous spot on the island of Culebra is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, playing in the clear water, or simply relaxing and taking it all in. It also features something nothing else on this list has: a heavily graffitied tank, half sunk into the sand, a relic of the US Navy’s occupation of this part of the island.
9. Diani Beach, Kenya
Voted Africa’s top beach destination five years running, this 17km stretch of sand along the Indian Ocean is backed by the Shimba Hills National Reserve, an area of coastal rainforest and grassland that’s home to 50% of Kenya’s rare plants. The beach itself offers jet skiing and kite surfing, as well as diving among the coral reefs.
8. Emerald Cave Beach, Thailand
A sea cave on the west side of Koh Muk island, the beach outside is surrounded by steep cliffs and vegetation. When the tide fills the lagoon, the sun shines on the water, making the inside of the cave a beautiful variety of sparkling colors, hence its name.
7. Matana Beach, Kavadu, Fiji
Were you to ask a child to draw a tropical beach, this is the sort of thing they might come up with: a strip of beautiful yellow sand backed by palm trees and thick forest, opal-blue water lapping gently at the shore. In the distance are rugged mountains over which you can watch the sun paint the sky in vivid oranges and pinks every evening.
6. Maspalomas Dunes, Canary Islands, Spain
With views of the dunes and mountains behind, Maspalomas has been a protected nature reserve since 1987. The sand on the dunes can get incredibly hot around midday, so be wary if you want to explore the dunes on foot. For a piece of history, the nearby Faro Maspalomas lighthouse is the site from which Christopher Columbus set out on his voyage to the New World.
5. Los Roques Archipelago, Venezuela
A surprise entrant into the tournament and one that a lot of people got behind as it advanced through the first round and the round of 16 to reach the quarter-finals — only losing there by 0.4% of the votes to an eventual finalist — the entire archipelago seemed to be a well-kept secret. Sea and sky as far as the eye can see, tiny fishing villages that, in truth, are no more than a couple of houses, and something Venezuela is very proud to call their own.
4. Praia da Azeda, Brazil
Set in a rocky cove near the resort of Armação dos Búzios, this is one of a series of beaches on a headland jutting into the sea around 160km east of Rio de Janeiro. Less busy than the famous city beaches of Rio, and attracting fewer fans of water sports due to its sheltered location, it’s the perfect little spot to relax: an easy stroll from the local town, but quaint and homely enough to be able to call your own.
3. Sarakiniko Beach, Greece
An unusual beach, and one that did well to get to the semi-final stage of the contest, purely for the fact that it’s the only beach without a single grain of sand on it! Located on the volcanic island of Milos, its grey-white rocks are often compared to a moonscape, offering a cove devoid of any vegetation, in stark contrast to the shining blue sea. A real one-off.
Our losing finalist — by a very tight margin, it has to be said — was Anse Cocos. Offering the classic color palette of deep green, vivid blue and sun-bleached white, this bay and its perfect beach are a classic of the genre. A stunning beach, and only bettered by one other in the whole world…
And so to the champion. The final was an incredibly close contest, but in the end Veligandu Island Beach just took the trophy. It’s a worthy winner, no doubt, a sliver of perfection in a startlingly blue sea, palm trees for shade, and beautiful accommodation. It truly is what every beach-lover dreams of when they imagine their perfect piece of paradise.