For many of us, the word 'holiday' is synonymous with 'beach', and 'beach' is synonymous with sun, sea, and total relaxation. But whilst some beaches get all the good press (think the snowy sands of the Seychelles and Australia's iconic Bondi beach), some seem to fall under the radar. For an extra helping of peace and quiet with your sea-soaked relaxation, these underrated, little-known beaches can offer all the beauty, without the crush of the crowds.
When it comes to the Greek Isles and the beautiful Aegean beaches that call them home, Mykonos and Santorini tend to reel in most of the tourism. Alonissos is one of the Aegean's slightly better-kept secrets, with its beautiful old town (Chora) and endless orchards and olive groves to explore nearby. The beaches here are not only beautiful, but also offer the opportunity for a spot of diving or dolphin watching; Alonissos is proudly home to the largest natural marine park in the Mediterranean.
The beaches of Barbuda
Another example of a paradise left relatively untouched as tourism has been directed almost wholly to one of its neighbors, is Barbuda. Whilst beach bums from around the world flock to Antigua for their sun fix, Barbuda remains relatively quiet. With stunning pink sands and caves decorated with carvings by the island's original Amerindian inhabitants which you can camp in, Barbuda should not be so easily passed over. It's no wonder that this paradise, with its mere handful of hotels and well-preserved local pace, is said to have been a secret hideaway for none other than the late Princess Diana.
Koh Lanta, Thailand
The rise of Thailand's popularity in recent years has been incredible, and the result is that previously tranquil areas like Phi Phi and Phucket have become a little overcrowded, to say the least. The island of Koh Lanta, however, remains largely undisturbed by the tourist hype, retaining not only its peace, but its affordability, too. With its immaculate sands, breathtaking sunsets and the option of snorkeling through its coral reefs, Koh Lanta is the perfect spot to hit for a romantic and tranquil beach break in beautiful Thailand.
Second Beach, Washington (USA)
The Olympic Coast of Washington is home to three stunning beaches, as well as an array of wildlife and beautiful forest land. It's a popular destination for hikers, which is probably just as well since reaching this secluded beach entails a fairly decent hike. It's worth it when you get there; the scenery of this quiet beach is striking, the horizon set with sea stacks and a rocky archway known to sing with the wind. Second Beach is a rarely mentioned yet totally unmissable gem of the USA coast.
Montauk, New York
Located right at the easternmost tip of Long Island (and aptly nicknamed 'The End'), Montauk is surrounded by water on three sides, meaning miles of beach space, both rocky and sandy. With no boardwalks or other such developments, the beaches of Montauk have a rare and charming natural feel to them, frequented by fishermen and surfers alike. The locals feel the sleepy small-town feel of this isolated paradise is coming under threat due to its increasing popularity, so make your visit before the crowds take over.
Okay, so Caribbean beaches probably make it on to every list of 'top beaches' ever published. The island of Curacao, however, has received less critical attention than it deserves, rendering it one of the Caribbean's slightly better kept secrets. With over 40 beaches to choose from, a range of activities like deep sea diving and windsurfing, and blazing beach weather all year round, Curacao is any beach-lover's idea of paradise.
Ibo Island, Mozambique
The beautiful coral island archipelago of Ibo Island has been nominated for UNESCO World Heritage status, and it's really no surprise. Though the offerings of the safari scene in Africa understandably take the spotlight in the eyes of wildlife lovers, the biodiversity of Ibo Island is astounding. In addition to some of the inland safari favorites, you can also see turtles, humpback whales, sharks and dolphins. The low impact tourism infrastructure means that if you somehow grow restless of Ibo Island's unspoiled beaches, the islands wildlife and culture are a welcome distraction to be explored guilt-free.
Agonda Beach, Goa
With Thailand generally clutching every medal for epic beach parties going, you can be forgiven for not having heard about Agonda Beach. If you're a sucker for rave-scene nightlife and gorgeous Indian cuisine but also want to experience the relaxed feel of Indian village life, Agonda beach has everything you're looking for. With its clean waters and inviting golden sands, you can't go wrong.
Cumberland Island, Georgia
Located off the Southeast coast of Georgia, this barrier island boasts around 18 miles of beach, incorporating marshland, sand dunes and woodland to explore, too. The beach has a rugged, natural feel to it, only increased by the presence of the wild horses which call it home, wandering free across the sands. For an untouched island paradise in the US, Cumberland Island can't be beaten.
Jacksonville Beach, Florida
Whether you're a golf fan or an art aficionado (or both) the golden sands of Florida's underrated Jacksonville Beach have a lot to offer. If not...there are still the options of swimming, fishing, surfing, or just sampling the great (and reasonably priced) local food. Florida's beautiful weather lasts all year round, so no matter when you choose to visit, Jacksonville Beach won't let you down.
West Bay, Roatán
It's perhaps concerns of traveling to mainland Honduras which keep visitors away from its islands. And yet, the island of Roatán is not only safe, but beautiful. Its quiet, gated resort villages reflect the relaxed and friendly atmosphere of the island as a whole. Whether you choose to spend your days on the Roatan's silky white sand beaches, or taking advantage of the off-shore snorkelling, this place is truly paradise, yet (somehow) it remains truly underrated.