15 Best Secret Beaches (Part II)
8. New England
When it comes to New England, everyone talks about the beaches of Martha’s Vineyard, but the best ones on that A-list island are private and require residency or a pricey permit. The ones on Block Island, R.I., are just as lovely and much more accessible. Head to the quieter Mansion Beach over the more crowded State Beach—you won’t bump into Martha Stewart, but it’s free and open to the public.
Getty Images; Newscom
Pink Sands Beach on Harbour Island might be the most famous rosy-hued stretch of sand in the world—and for good reason—but you will have to walk from here to eternity to get deeper than your waist in the water, as its small waves break hundreds of miles offshore. For better breakers, amble over to Harbour Island’s tranquil Club Med Beach in nearby Eleuthera. This was Club Med’s famed beach before the resort was destroyed by a hurricane in 1999, so it’s possible that you’ll find you have the whole strand to yourself. The gorgeous Atlantic-side beach remains, anchored by fantastic bistros.
AP Photo, Flickr
With big signs and glossy pamphlets, Daytona Beach bills itself as “The World’s Most Famous Beach”—a title that caught on in the 1920s and, today, is up for debate. It’s a spring-break destination, its population quintuples during big stock-car races, and as many as half a million bikers roar into town for motorcycle events during the spring and fall. You’d be better off at Gulf Islands National Seashore. Summer 2010 was a lost cause for this picturesque area thanks to the BP oil spill, but already snowbirds have started to return to the undeveloped, snow-white sand here.
Nice is probably the French Riviera’s best-known resort, but its rocky beaches, tacky cafes, and cheap budget hotels just off the promenade make it less than ideal, and it’s a far cry from the exclusive Riviera coastal vibes that you’ll find at neighboring beaches in Cannes or St-Tropez. Stick to Nice as a transport hub and leave the beach bumming for towns farther west along the coast.
It’s hard to go wrong in Fiji, where nearly every beach boasts white sands and calm cerulean seas. The Travel Channel has dubbed Natadola Beach on Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu “the most beautiful white-sand beach in Fiji,” which “draws vacationers from around the world.” If the latter part of that sentence isn’t enough of a red flag, then also bear in mind that Natadola’s strong currents often churn up choppy waters and an undertow that makes for less than desirable swimming conditions. Another white-sand beach at the very northern tip of the main island, Volivoli, is less likely to draw crowds and the requisite peddlers selling coconuts and coral necklaces. Volivoli’s deep lagoon and sprawling southwestern view of Viti Levu’s mountains are just a few of the beach’s attractions. It’s also a short walk from the affordable Volivoli Beach Resort—a modest yet comfortable resort where backpackers often lay their heads for the night.
13. British Virgin Islands
Tortola’s Cane Garden Bay has long been considered one of the most popular beaches in the British Virgin Islands. (Jimmy Buffett sang about it in his 1978 hit “Mañana.”) The mile-long stretch of pristine beach beneath rolling green hills is certainly picturesque, but the excess of rum bars and restaurants in the area often attract a raucous crew throughout the day and night, particularly in peak season. Those who prefer the sound of wind and waves to steel drums should stray from the mainland to the lesser-known Deadman’s Beach on Peter Island. “Don’t let the name scare you,” says Clampet. “Deadman’s is perfect for a romantic getaway from the comparative bustle of Tortola.” The deserted Deadman’s Island is a short dinghy ride from the beach—and arguably the best snorkeling spot in the region.
Overplayed: Costa del Sol
Costa del Sol has attracted party-loving beachgoers from around the globe. Whether in Marbella, Malaga, Nerja or Torremolinos, you can find soft sand, calm waters, and tons of sun. However, its popularity means you can also expect heavy traffic as hordes of travelers make their way toward Costa del Sol’s beaches lined with skyscrapers, resorts, and restaurants. Those looking for a less congested beach getaway would be wise to head north and hop a 45-minute flight from Barcelona to Catalonia’s Balearic Islands. Hotspots Majorca and Ibiza echo Costa del Sol’s crowds and party scene. Menorca, on the other hand, is described by Lonely Planet as “one of the few places in the Mediterranean where it is possible to have a beautiful beach largely to yourself in the summer.” The 216-kilometer coastline of the Balearics’ second-largest and northernmost island features pristine beaches and undiscovered coves—perfect for a secluded getaway.
Mylopotas beach on the Greek island of Ios got so popular at one point that people were sleeping on the sand to avoid hotel fees. Camping out has since been banned, but the long stretch of coastal sand is still a favorite among tourists who come not only for the view but the abundance of hotels, restaurants, and boutiques. While Mylopotas is clearly popular for a reason, anyone looking to ditch the crowd might want to head over to Myrtos beach. Located on Kefalonia island, this relatively undeveloped expanse has received several awards including “Best Beach in Greece.” Still, while such attention has attracted many visitors to Myrtos’s pebbled shores, a lack of restaurants and the fact that it’s relatively hard to reach keep it pretty isolated. “The secluded setting is worth the price of the car hire you’ll need to get here and back,” says Clampet.