If sitting on the pebbles at Brighton just doesn't cut the mustard for you, then it's time to head further afield in search of the most awesome stretches of sand on the planet. From Australia to the Caribbean, there are a few truly special beaches that are well worth the trip of a lifetime.
Perfect 10 beaches of the world
The sand on Whitehaven is 98% pure silica, which means tiny white grains of such quality that they could be used to make optical lenses or clean silver. Also, the beach doesn't get hot, meaning that it will never burn the feet.
Backed up by National Park and facing out onto the waters of the Great Barrier Reef, Whitehaven is almost a pilgrimage site for beach lovers.
The only way of getting there is by boat, and there are many cruises that go to the Whitsunday Islands – as well as their most famous stretch of sand - from nearby Airlie Beach.
Amongst the best is the high speed sailing catamaran Camira. The day cruises on Camira allow for plenty of time to relax, walk or play beach cricket on Whitehaven. They also throw in a reef snorkelling session, morning and afternoon tea either side of an extensive lunch, plus drinks from the bar included in the price.
More information: Cruise Whitsundays
It has the clear Caribbean waters, and the fine white sand that you'd expect from any great beach, but what makes Tulum's beach so magical are the Mayan ruins behind it. It's easy to see why the ancient civilisation built a city here – the views are fantastic.
Vava'u is essentially two fabulous beaches in one. The first is a typical long, sandy strip backed by palm trees, and it's secluded enough to ensure that you'll have very little – if any – company.
But immediately to its right is the addition that makes Vava'u truly special. It's a little cove, sheltered by a palm-covered headland and containing two gorgeous islets. The water is lovely and warm, and when the sun hits it, it bursts into multiple shades of blue, green and turquoise.
It's no wonder that beachwear companies will fly models thousands of miles to have photo shoots done here. <
br/>More information: Samoa Travel
Not so much a beach, but a series of four. The beaches along Hawksbill Bay are technically available for public access, but unless you fancy a long swim around headlands, this isn't really the case. However, it is possible to pay a fee at Hawksbill by Rex Resorts (or stay there), and get access to the gorgeous stretches of sand. They have something of an end-of-the-world feel. They are right at the western tip of a peninsula, and the unusually-shaped rock which gives the bay its name is pretty much the only thing in sight.
More information: www.rexresorts.com
A beautiful crescent backing on to the Indian Ocean, Lamu Beach is approximately eight miles long, and it hasn't been overdeveloped. You're as likely to hear the birds and watch crabs shuffling towards the sea as you are to see other tourists.
Remember The Beach? Written by Alex Garland, starring Leonardo di Caprio, directed by Danny Boyle? Well Maya Bay is the one in question. This was the one used as a filming location in the backpacker favourite. It's not as quiet as the film would have you believe – it can get crowded by fans of the movie – but it's still pretty darned special.
A regular in the top ten lists from the major glossy travel magazines, Emerald Bay forms a near-perfect crescent, is backed by lush vegetation and has clear water gently lapping at the shoreline. It's part of a private resort, but you can pay to get in.
The name says it all really. The sands take on a pink colour at certain times of the day, and in the late afternoon this three mile strip looks simply sensational. It's also a great spot for swimmers and snorkelers – the water is usually crystal clear and totally calm.
The one that the island tends to promote as the best beach in the world is Shoal Bay East, but despite being a beautiful strip of white sand, that tends to have a few too many day trippers. Rendezvous Bay is a less crowded alternative. It's not quite as long, but it is quieter, the sand is almost unbelievably white and the views of neighbouring island St Martin are superb.
Varadero may well be covered in all-inclusive resorts nowadays, but there's a good reason for this – it's a truly awesome beach. Despite the mass tourism there, however, the beach is big enough to take it. Varadero is huge, and there's always a quiet spot if you fancy one.
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