Where sand meets penguins: Boulders Beach in South Africa (Photo: Charles J. Sharp/Wikimedia Commons)
Everyone loves heading to the beach in the summer. There’s nothing like sand and sun on a hot day. But the only thing that’s more fun than driving to the local beach is visiting an international spot. Why not combine traveling abroad with dipping your toes in the water?
Here are some of the most searched international beaches on Yahoo — all guaranteed to deliver gorgeous coastlines and unique experiences.
In recent years, South Africa has become an increasingly popular tourist destination. The secret is out: These beaches are breathtaking — and they come with penguins. Outside Simon’s Town, near Cape Town, Boulders Beach is part of the Table Mountain National Park. The main attraction is a colony of nearly 3,000 African penguins that has made the beach its home since 1983. While the penguins’ habitat is protected, visitors can see them up close and swim among the boulders at adjacent beaches.
Grace Bay, Providenciales (Courtesy: The Somerset)
2. Grace Bay
Turks and Caicos is a tropical nation made up of over 40 small islands and cays. Providenciales, one of the western islands in the chain, is the main tourism center and home to Grace Bay, which is known for its crystal-blue water and pristine white sand. There are a number of luxury hotels and restaurants in Grace Bay, such as The Somerset resort or The Grace Bay Club.
Rabbit Beach,on an Italian island, is a challenge to reach, but visitors love it. (Photo: Marco Molino/Flickr)
3. Rabbit Beach
Last year Rabbit Beach was voted the world’s best beach by TripAdvisor, so you know it can’t be bad. The only challenge is getting there. Rabbit Beach is on the southern edge of the island of Lampedusa (also known as Spiaggia dei Conigli to Italians), which is off the south coast of Sicily — itself off the coast of Italy. The island, which has about 4,500 residents, is accessible only by inter-island ferries or small planes. But the beach itself can be reached only by boat. Once you get there, though, you might see loggerhead sea turtles laying eggs. And, you’ll get to experience unspoiled, shockingly clear waters.
Anse Lazio, Seychelles (Photo: Artfuldodge/Wikimedia Commons)
4. Anse Lazio
Off the eastern coast of Africa, the tiny Seychelles islands are well-known for their beauty. The second largest of these islands is Praslin — home to Anse Lazio, one of the best beaches in the Seychelles. Although it is known for snorkeling and swimming, Anse Lazio is not protected by a coral reef, like other beaches in the area. Though there hadn’t been a shark attack there in decades, there were two attacks in the bay in 2011.
Cable Beach, Western Australia (Photo: Thinkstock)
5. Cable Beach
Australia is really, really big, and most people never make it past the main harbors. But, if you travel to Western Australia, the trip will be worth it. Among the many amazing sights on that side of the island is Cable Beach, near Broome. The beach is 13 miles long and surrounded by red cliffs. At the southern end of the beach is Gantheaume Point, where you should be able to see 130 million-year-old dinosaur footprints and possibly some dolphins. Ride a camel along the water’s edge as the sun sets.
Maya Bay, Thailand (Photo: Diego Delso/Wikimedia Commons)
6. Maya Bay
Located on Ko Phi Phi Lee island in Thailand, Maya Bay was the location for the 2000 Leonardo DiCaprio movie “The Beach.” The shallow turquoise water is surrounded by steep limestone cliffs, but movie executives made changes to the landscape at the time, including reshaping dunes and removing coconut trees. In 2006, the Thailand Supreme Court ruled that filming had harmed the environment. In recent years, the island has become more accessible, with toilets, a snack bar, and camping sites near the beach.
Wineglass Bay, Tasmania (Photo: Corbis Images)
Tasmania is already known for its rugged beauty. But, on an island known for its wild and stunning landscapes, Freycinet National Park stands out above the rest. In the park, Wineglass Bay has been recognized as one of the best beaches in the world. The white sand and blue water are surrounded by red-and-pink granite formations and a series of peaks called The Hazards. Stay at eco-lodges by the beach or at the luxurious Freycinet Lodge.
Matira Beach, Bora Bora (Photo: Corbis Images)
8. Matira Beach
When people think of Bora Bora, they picture white beaches with straw-thatched bungalows directly over the water. What you’re picturing is Matira Beach, the island’s most popular public beach. The beach stretches from Hotel Bora Bora to Matira Point. The shallow water in the lagoon means you can walk all the way out to the barrier reef. Snorkel or just relax under the palm trees and wait for the stunning sunset. When you get hungry (or thirsty), head to the world-famous Bloody Mary’s.
Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Islands (Photo: Damien Dempsey/Wikimedia Commons)
Of course, Australia would have two beaches on our list. Whitehaven Beach, on Whitsunday Island, was voted the cleanest beach in Queensland and the most eco-friendly. Take a high-speed catamaran or a small seaplane to visit the beach, which is part of a national park. On the edge of the Great Barrier Reef, the contrasting swirls of turquoise and blue – where shallow lagoon water meets inlets on the island meets deeper ocean currents — make for a one-of-a-kind landscape.
Flamenco Beach, Puerto Rico (Photo: Corbis Images)
10. Flamenco Beach
A popular day trip for locals, Flamenco Beach is a mile-long horseshoe-shaped bay on Culebra Island in Puerto Rico. After taking the ferry or a small plane to the island, you can rent lounge chairs and umbrellas at the beach gate or snorkeling equipment across from the ferry dock. Culebra Divers and KPR Adventure Shop both lead guided snorkeling tours as well. If you’re looking for more than a day trip, camping on the beach is allowed if you register and pay for your permit first. What’s better than sleeping in paradise?