Let me preface this blog post with I haven’t been to the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Seychelles or Australia (yet). I realize those four are very important in terms of beach rankings, but I’m sorry I haven’t been lucky enough to see them by June 6th, 2019. I definitely will one day though!
This blog post came about because some magazine released a top ten ranking for beaches in the world and literally got it so wrong, I can’t even begin to tell you. How do you know they got it wrong? Bali is in their top ten. If you have been to Bali, you’ll know that their beaches are nice for pictures but not particularly great for actual swimming. Just surfing. Now, the Gili islands surrounding Bali have exceptional beaches, but the island itself is just OK. I’ll give it an OK for beaches. Furthermore, the list didn’t include even ONE Caribbean island for their beach ranking. Now how the hell does that work? No no. I can’t have that.
So at the recommendation of one of my super duper Twitter followers, I decided to make my own little top five beaches I have been to that I think you should totally go to as well.
I should mention the three things I probably want most for beaches:
1) what is the sand quality? (no rocks, no damn water shoes needed etc.)
2) is there stuff nearby? (food etc.)
3) how busy is it? (I prefer total isolation for beaches)
#5: Vouliagmeni Beach – Athens, Greece
I really debated about this one because it was between Vouliagmeni in Athens or the black sand beach named Kamari in Santorini, but I know in my heart where I had the most memorable experience.
When my friends and I went to Greece in 2015, one of the biggest regrets we had was staying in the center of Athens instead of knowing about this gem just outside of the city. Of course you choose the center because you want to see all the historical things but once we went to spend a day over at Vouliagmeni, yep, we regretted not just being there the whole time.
Getting from Athens to Vouliagmeni takes a little while if you choose to take transit like we did, but it’s so worth it. In my countless travels to Europe absolutely no beach felt as comfortable as this one did.
What do I mean by comfort? The people and the locals on the beach. Not only was the water nice, the sand hot and lots of food stalls nearby but the people really made the experience so memorable. Every woman of every size and age was comfortably walking around that beach. Even my two friends (who are significantly slimmer than I am) commented on how comfortable they felt at this beach because all kinds of bodies were trotting around in their thong bikinis. And you know what? No one gave a shit. There wasn’t the prying side-eyes of Snapchat filters and body shaming jokes comparing your body shape to that of some farm animal. Nothing. People were mad chill and everyone was enjoying themselves. We loved being here so much we actually even stayed all the way until the sun went down, we didn’t want to leave.
It isn’t the soft sand like other places, there was definitely some ‘ouch’ and ‘ooh’ when walking around but if you are ever in Athens, please go visit this beach. The water will cool you off from the super hot walkways and your soul will be rejuvenated into wanting to wear the smallest bathing suit ever and still feel like a bad bitch. Just get there early too, this place gets very busy!
#4: Worthing Beach – Barbados
Barbados. Barbados. Barbados.
I love this island because I swear every ten steps I can find a beautiful beach. There is literally no shortage of nice beaches on such a small square footage of land.
Since 2012 I have spent a combined five weeks on the island of Barbados. I have been there three times and all three were for the purpose of Cropover. Between all my drunken stupors and fetes, I took the time to see the beaches in Barbados and attempt to get from pale white to off white in colour. (I failed, there is only red as the other option)
There will probably be some debate about the beach I chose because 1) there’s literally so many and 2) I’m not even 100% sure if this should be called Worthing/is a part of Worthing?
So anyone fun who has been to Barbados has likely visited the St. Lawrence Gap. That is the super awesome party area where you can indulge in the greatness that is Bajan soca, pigtail, mac pie and the Gap burger. At the base/beginning of the St. Lawrence Gap there is this incredible little beach. There are some smaller boats docked there, usually a gentleman selling necklaces and just other tourists wandering around to get into the party area. It isn’t necessarily quiet but I wouldn’t describe it as super busy either like the nearby Rockley or Dover beaches.
I love this little stretch of beach. As someone who has done the UNGODLY act of walking from Worthing to the center of Bridgetown in that Barbadian August heat, this little beach to cool off at the beginning of your journey is to die for. It’s the perfect blend of everything good!
You begin your walk from your hotel in the Gap, you get some pigtail, you go into the water for a bit, continue your walk, go eat some doubles from that one super nice Trinidadian lady on the street with a stall, continue your walk, go into Bubba’s Sports Bar and get a drink, continue your walk and now you’re drunk and closer to Bridgetown. Congratulations, you just lost 40lbs in water weight.
But seriously, this little beach is so great because the location is superb for cooling off before/after any activity you get up to. The sand is soft and the water is forever at a great temperature.
If you visit Barbados, I assure you that you will see this beach at some point and think of me telling you to stop mekkin sport and jump in.
#3: Cayo Guillermo Beach – Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Coco, Cuba
Just like Barbados, the island of Cuba has a plethora of beaches to pick from that are superb (just, with more landmass).
I have been to Cuba five times now and the beach in Cayo Guillermo is by far the best one I’ve seen.
In 2016 my family and I traveled to Cayo Guillermo in the Cayo Coco area of Cuba. Not much of a party area, but definitely a splendid beach area. Our resort was on this insane stretch of beach that I decided to walk the length of one day and when I returned my phone said I’d walked something crazy like 7km? I obviously don’t spend enough time worrying about things like heat exhaustion or burning skin. (idiot)
This beach had perfect buttery sand all up and down this long stretch of walking and it also had hoards of tourists on it because of the resorts. I enjoyed occasionally stepping in to swim, then go back to walking and then swim again.
If you are ever trying to pick a resort with a breathtaking beach in Cuba – I would highly recommend choosing one along Cayo Guillermo. Just make sure to walk around the group of hippies doing yoga in the water and sidestep the crying children whose parents are too drunk off Havana Club to watch them.
#2: Maafushi Bikini Beach – Maafushi, Maldives
I mean, it’s the freaking Maldives, you know?
For Christmas 2017 I was fortunate enough to be in the Maldives. The famed country of so many islands that people dream of going for their honeymoon one day. Beautiful country with incredibly nice locals and weather. You have beaches and beaches galore on the local and private islands, that is why you came to the Maldives. Beaches are the purpose.
My favourite beach was the bikini beach we had in front of our hotel. Not particularly busy, nice sand and a restaurant literally leading onto the beach. That’s a nice 3/3 in what I want in a beach. It was very easy to relax there and just lose your day caught up in all the sunshine and realization that you had worked so hard to make it to such a special place. The Maldives are one of those places where you are sitting on whichever island you chose to visit of theirs and you try to imagine it on the world map and are in absolute awe that you, little YOU, made it there.
The only reason that Maafushi did lose out to what is my #1 beach pick is because I couldn’t have any alcohol while enjoying all of this (I mean, totally petty reason I guess) so if I spent a week here I’d be wondering where is my rum? But the other 96% of the reason was at 5’9 if I walked out into the water so it would be up to my neck – there was still rocks IN the water. I hate rocks, I hate water shoes. There is nothing awesome about pebbles and rocks cutting into your feet and my foot bottom is already tougher than calculus, so I can’t even imagine how that feels for people who get actual pedicures.
If you go to the Maldives one day, I really suggest coming to a nice local island like Maafushi for two-three days before heading off to one of the private islands. This beach was beautiful.
#1: Shoal Bay Beach – Anguilla
And it wasn’t even close!
The absolutely most perfect beach I have been blessed to step a foot on is Shoal Bay in Anguilla.
Buttery sand? Check. (not even butter, more like creamiest margarine of life)
Complete isolation? Check. (it was December, and there was only 10 of us for the ENTIRE place)
Food? Check. (the snapper? oooommgg)
Access to alcohol? Okay I’m being petty again, but CHECK! (I had a tequila shot before 8am by the ferry dock in Anguilla, but we were celebrating!)
For my 29th birthday I was blessed to visit my 20th country and that was the small island of Anguilla. To get there we took a ferry from St. Maarten for the day and I regret that we didn’t spend more time in this idyllic place. It’s so damn perfect. You take a ride from the ferry dock to Shoal Bay on the other side of the island and as you arrive you kind of feel like Leo in ‘The Beach’. It’s this incredibly beautiful scene of perfect blue water, serenity and just peace. There’s no one else there. You feel like you have the whole place to yourself.
Our tour I think had no more than ten people, and we were the ones occupying it as far as I could see up and down the beach. There was this little restaurant right there so we wouldn’t go hungry and we literally laid there all day taking this scenery in.
I have been to forty countries now, and no beach has been as immaculate as Shoal Bay is. If you have the time to make it to Anguilla, you really must go experience this place for yourself. I’m not entirely sure if we were just super lucky on December 16, 2015 to have that beach to ourselves but whatever it was, I’m happy it happened. A must-see beach.
I would like to give a special shout out to Verudela Beach in Pula, Croatia, Maiden Cay in Kingston, Jamaica and Maho Beach in St. Maarten because they were all pretty amazing to me as well, but not enough to crack my top five.
I would love to hear below in the comments what YOUR favourite beaches are as well so that I may know what I may be missing out on and what I need to venture to next!