I’m not ashamed to admit that, against all my good intentions, I’ve got a wee bit caught up in the Olympics. It was David Beckham on a boat that finally did it for me. Now, I’m well and truly sucked in to every adrenaline-pumping, sweat-inducing, tear-jerking minute. All because of David Beckham and his dapper ways. That man has a lot to answer for.
So, in light of my and the country’s current obsession, I decided to award some medals of my own. Not to athletes, though – it’s been done, and, really, wouldn’t make a great post for a travel blog.
So instead, I’m giving gold medals to some of the world’s most stunning beaches. 8 of ‘em, in fact. It turns out that the world has some pretty spectacular beaches. Competition was fierce. The clearest waters, the softest sands, the best parties and the most picture perfect sunsets battled it out for a place on the podium.
The result? A dazzling display of nirvana-like coastlines that’ll have you packing the sunscreen and boarding a plane. Get ready to witness a medal ceremony like no other…
Keep reading to see which beaches made our winners' podium | Image by allspice1
8 beaches that deserve a gold medal
1. Wineglass Bay, Tasmania, Australia
Often voted as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Wineglass Bay gets the first of my gold medals. Located halfway down the east coast of Australia’s island state, Tasmania, Wineglass Bay is a secluded, white sand paradise.
By the time you reach it, you may feel worthy of a medal yourself: for the best views, a 45 minute hike up to the lookout point is in order, while it’ll take you another 30 minutes to trek through the Australian bush to the bay itself. But, as our resident Tasmanian Gretel says, “It’ll all be worth it when you’re rewarded with an almost deserted beach, great snorkelling, and wallabies hopping around.” Bonza!
Share the beach with the wallabies at Wineglass Bay | Image by n.hewson
2. Koh Lipe, Thailand
Thailand boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but I’m giving the gold to Koh Lipe. Nestled off Southern Thailand’s Andaman Coast, not far from the Malaysian border, Koh Lipe is the definition of a paradise island.
Long tail boats bob up and down on the clear waters, while a stroll along Sunrise Beach is like walking on flour. The island’s national park status means that development is kept to a minimum – you won’t find any cars, and motorcycles aren’t available to rent. If this isn’t paradise, I don’t know what is.
3. D.T. Fleming, Hawaii, USA
When I gave Hawaii a High Five last week, I was overwhelmed with choice when it came to recommending the best beaches. And now I’m faced with the same decision again. Diverse and plentiful, Hawaii could boast loads of medal winning beaches. But I’m giving the gold to Maui’s D.T. Fleming Beach Park.
This sprawling beach is nestled at the foot of sprawling green land, surrounded by trees that provide some much-needed shade from the Maui heat. It’s also a great surfing beach, so grab your board at hit the waves, dude.
They don't make 'em like Maui's D.T. Fleming very often |Image by courtney_80
4. Langkawi, Malaysia
The idyllic Malaysian island of Langkawi deserves a gold medal not only for its stunning coastline, but also for the fact that it’s a duty-free island (yes, that means very cheap alcohol).
The main beach, Pentai Cenang, is a wonder in itself, but for a bit of a beachy-hideaway, head 12 km north to Pentai Kok. Surrounded by green mountains and limestone caves, you’ll feel very far away from reality indeed. Hire a scooter and explore all the beaches to give this island the attention it deserves.
5. Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia
You won’t find Byron Bay on our Secret Sydney list, but it’s impossible to keep the best things in life a secret, and there’s certainly a reason that travellers flock to Byron Bay en masse each year. 9 beaches make up the Bay, but it’s Main Beach, directly in front of the town of Byron Bay, that gets our 5th gold medal.
This sandy space goes that extra mile to provide everything a beach should have, and then some: awesome people watching, warm waters, sandcastle competitions and, when the sun goes down, drum banging and fire twirling. Really, what more could you want?
Sandcastles at dusk, at Byron Bay Main Beach | Image by Johan Larsson
6.Porto da Barra, Salvador, Brazil
Salvador is surrounded by beaches, but its Porto da Barra that gets a gold medal for its stunning location. Sat at the entrance to the city’s main bay, Baía de Todos os Santos, you’ll find a small, white colonial fort at one end and a whitewashed church at the other.
A few hours spent here, taking in sunset, and you’ll forget that you’re sat in the heart of Brazil’s third-largest city. A much needed haven that shouldn’t be missed if you’re heading to South America.
7. Cathedral Cove, New Zealand
When I counted down New Zealand’s best beaches back in March, one of our loyal readers, Paul, suggested we take a look at Cathedral Cove. Well, our editor Ant did just that, and dubbed this secluded spot “absolutely breathtaking”. Breathtaking enough for a gold medal, in fact.
Much better than visiting a normal cathedral, no? | Image by brewbooks
So-named because of the cathedral-like arch formed in the rocks that joins the two coves, you can reach Cathedral Cove via an hour walking track from Hahei Beach, or, as Ant did, via kayak. Take this top tip from Ant: “Reaching the cove by kayak is an incredible experience and, if you’re lucky, your guide will whip you up latte to enjoy on the beach.”
8. Likuliku Bay, Waya Island, Fiji
Fiji’s 300-plus islands mean there are no shortage of medal-deserving beaches, but it’s Likuliku Bay on Waya Island that get the gold from me.
The view on the approach to Likuliku is exactly what you imagine when you think of Fiji – white sand, turquoise waters, palm trees – in a nutshell, it’s paradise. Plus, you’ll find incredible snorkelling and luxurious beach-side accommodation fit for an Olympian.