These Are the Greatest, Less-Too-Touristed Beaches in the World

Culture
Want to go somewhere insanely gorgeous, where you can lay in the sun and not feel overwhelmed by throngs of tourists? These are the beaches for you.
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Matteo Colombo

The beach is where you can brazenly exhibit the most Vitamin-D-deficient parts of your body, drink something strong and slushy at any hour of the day, or squat down to look at tiny sea creatures in warm tide pools and tilt your head up to look at towering cliffs behind. The beach is, undeniably, where you get to live your best life.

That is, except when the pristine sand is littered with abandoned trash bags or the natural beauty factor is low or you’re surrounded by swarms of underage college freshman who think Icing is a fun drinking game. While coasts have come to be synonymous with paradise, the beach can also be a place where you immediately come to hate every surrounding stranger—past, present, and future.

These 12 beaches, from a hippie nudist haven in the south of Mexico to a secluded cove in Greece, are the former: places that may not make every Top Beach list or draw the largest hordes of tourists in the region, but could, if that’s what these beaches were all about. You should add at least one of them to your summer bucket list, stat. (Just remember to pack some sunscreen.)

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Alan Copson

Praia da Dona Ana in Lagos, PortugalThe southernmost region of continental Portugal, Algarve has no shortage of picturesque beaches—and Dona Ana is the most. Clear blue water washes up on golden sand, which is surrounded by steep, ochre-colored strata cliffs. Plus, it’s not a long walk from Central Lagos, where you’ll want to head after the beach to grab a frothy beer and a bifana, a sauteed pork sandwich on a crusty roll that is the Portuguese equivalent of a hamburger.

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Nina Raingold

Zipolite Beach in Oaxaca, MexicoThis beach has a bit of a reputation as a hangout spot for nudists and yogis and aging hippies; it’s that, but also more. Located in the south of Mexico’s southern state, Oaxaca, Zipolite is where the iconic beach scenes in Y Tu Mama Tambien were filmed and is perfect for lounging on while feasting on just-caught fish and sucking down coconut water out of the hacked-open fruit. While you can swim here, exercise caution—the beach has gained the nickname “Beach of the Dead” because of its dangerously strong undercurrents.

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David C Tomlinson

Navagio Beach in GreeceKnown as both “Shipwreck Beach” and “Smuggler’s Cove,” small Navagio Beach is home to the remains of the Panagiotis, a shipping vessel that crashed on the coast of Zakynthos in 1983. Surrounded by rocky coves, the the secluded beach is only accessible by, ironically, boat. (From Porto Vromi, taxi boats leave every hour, and the ride takes approximately half an hour.)

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Veronica Garbutt

Bathsheba Beach in BarbadosOn Barbados’s rugged East Coast lies Bathsheba, a village that’s home to a community of fishermen and their families. Head to the coast for the beach, which features dramatic, ancient rock formations that were once part of coral reefs and white sand. This area is also called the “Soup Bowl” and attracts international surfers for competitions. Non-surfers, don’t miss the rum shacks.

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MB Photography

New Chums Beach in New ZealandHidden in Wainuiototo Bay on the northeast coast of New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula, New Chums Beach is a nearly-kilometer-long stretch of golden-white sand, native forest, and no buildings or infrastructure. As one of New Zealand’s last undeveloped beaches, this spot is perfect for those looking to escape any trace of mankind.

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Elisa Locci

Mancora Beach in PeruPeru’s neighbor to the east may be known for its beaches and tiny bathing suits, but the Land of the Incas has Mancora, a small fishing village with a long strip of sunny beaches on the northern Pacific coast. While Mancora is the most popular beach on Peru’s North Shore, this area is no Rio de Janeiro. After a long day of sunning, stop in the center of the village for a plate of ceviche and a strong maracuya (passionfruit) daiquiri.

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Railay Beach in ThailandLike other beaches on this list, Railay is only accessible by boat due to the steep limestone cliffs that prohibit access from the mainland; like the other beaches, the short trip is worth it. This small peninsula on in the south of Thailand is actually composed of four beaches, none of which are the wrong choice. Because it’s frequently ranked as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, the beach can sometimes get crowded. But, because of its beauty, you probably won’t really care.

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Albert Valles

El Matador Beach in Malibu, CaliforniaNorth of Zuma Beach and South of La Piedra Beach lies El Matador, just six miles north of Malibu on the Pacific Coast Highway. With massive rocks and sea caves, the romantic beach is only accessible by winding down a steep gravel path and is not staffed by lifeguards, so it’s not the best place to bring kids (pro or con, you decide!). You’ll probably see some extremely-in-love couples tenderly holding each other while a photographer captures the “candid” moment here.

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Kicka Witte/Kauai Visitors Bureau

Poipu Beach in KauaiWhile Oahu and Maui draw the most tourists of all the Hawaiian islands, Kauai, nicknamed the Garden Isle, has some of the state’s most picturesque beaches. Poipu Beach, on the island’s sunnier south shore, is one of the most popular and safest for swimming, snorkeling, and even surfing. Made up of two small bays, the beaches are separated by a jutting sandbar that’s often home to the island’s endangered monk seal. They are cute as hell, but leave them alone.

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Peter Unger

Sand Beach in MaineThis beautiful, tiny beach is located in Maine’s Acadia National Park, which spreads over Mount Desert Island, Isle au Haut, and the Schoodic Peninsula. The water never gets especially warm (it rarely exceeds 55 degrees even in the summer), but you’re here to admire the surrounding granite mountains and the eponymous sand. With sand and pink-hued minerals, the beach is primarily composed of tiny shell fragments that the tide has broken down over thousands of years.

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Rainer Grosskopf

Shi Shi Beach in WashingtonThis beach can get busy with campers on warm summer weekends, and understandably: It’s one of the Olympic Coast’s most comically beautiful spots, with its tide pools and sea stacks and coastal forest. Hike through the forest, walk along the the tide, or pitch a tent for an overnight stay here. If you happen to choose an especially busy weekend to camp here, intimidate others and prove that you’re worthy of your spot by saying the name the name correctly, which is pronounced “shy shy.”

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Marco Simoni

Dry Tortugas in FloridaWe know—Florida beaches, how unoriginal. Dry Tortugas Beach, however, is not a Ft. Lauderdale or a Siesta Key or even a Miami. Located at the end of the Florida Keys in the Gulf of Mexico, this powdery-sand beach in Dry Tortugas National Park is only accessible by ferry or seaplane, and is therefore much less crowded than the state’s other coasts. Bring snorkel gear and swim among the sea turtles in the peaceful, aquamarine water.

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