Sun, sea and sand

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TO some, it’s not a perfect holiday if it’s not sitting by the beach, getting a natural suntan while sipping on a refreshing beverage. In the background, the waves are crashing on the beach and the scent of the sea fills the air.

Chances are when one thinks about pearly white sandy beaches and the aquamarine-coloured sea, destinations like Phuket, Mexico, Seychelles and Boracay come to mind — but the 2015 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards claim these destinations are not necessarily the best spots for beaches in the world.

Over a 12-month period, based on the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings, beaches located in far-flung Brazil, Turks and Caicos, Italy and Cuba make the top of the list, showing us that we have yet to explore the beaches that travellers around the world love most.

The world’s best beaches

1. Baia do Sancho, Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
Located some 400km northeast of Brazil’s mainland, this crescent-shaped lush bay comes out on top for its crystal-clear blue water and solitude.

2. Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
The snow-white flat, baby-powder soft sandy beach — as described by one reviewer — stretches 11km in length on the island of Providenciales. The island is also home to many upscale resorts and condos.

3. Rabbit Beach, Lampedusa, Italy
Its name originates from the Arabic word “Rabit” which means “link”, referring to the isthmus that used to link the island to another. Today the isthmus is no longer there but the name still remains.

4. Playa Paraiso Beach, Cayo Largo, Cuba
If you’re looking for glittering white sands and turquoise water for contrast, “Paradise Beach” Playa Paraiso would be it. The secluded beach has been a favourite of North Americans for decades and is perfect to spot starfish, schools of flying fish and even swordfish, a reviewer noted.

5. Playa de Ses Illetes, Formentera, Spain
This beach is one of the most frequented spots on the beautiful island of Formentera. It’s a popular beach for partygoers who visit nearby Ibiza, and has become known as the “Fashion Beach”.

6. Anse Lazio, Praslin Island, Seychelles
Looking for shade to hide from the sun with blue water on the horizon? Then you might want to choose Anse Lazio. Fringed by all palm and takamaka trees, the crescent-moon-shaped beach never fails to lure tourists for its pure water and wide horizon line.

7. White Beach, Boracay, Philippines
This spot is the perfect snorkelling and swimming destination. It is sheltered from the wind and its water is glassy-smooth, shallow and warm.

8. Flamenco Beach (Playa Flamenco), Culebra, Puerto Rico
Famous for its top-notch diving, snorkelling, swimming and sports fishing sites, this beach stretches about 1.6km in length around a sheltered, horseshoe-shaped bay. It is bordered by the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge — one of the oldest wildlife preserves in the United States.

9. Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island, Australia
The largest of the 74 islands in the Whitsunday Group of Whitsunday Islands houses Whitehaven Beach, a 7km stretch along the island, located off the coast of central Queensland, Australia. Whitehaven Beach claims it is the most photographed beach in Australia.

10. Elafonissi Beach, Elafonissi, Greece
Elafonissi is located near the southwestern corner of the Mediterranean island of Crete and is a protected nature reserve. The beach is exotic with white sand and turquoise water, reminding visitors of the Caribbean.

For those looking for a place closer to home, TripAdvisor lists White Beach in Boracay, the Philippines as the top destination in the Top 10 Travellers’ Choice Beaches in Asia. It is followed by India’s Radhanagar Beach on Havelock Island and neighbouring Thailand’s Nai Harn Beach in Karon ranks third.
In Myanmar’s state of Rakhine, Ngapali Beach is fourth best and Yapak Beach, also in Boracay follows suit before Agonda Beach in India and Krabi’s Railay Beach in Thailand. Phra Nang Beach in Ao Nang sits at the ninth place and Cambodia’s Otres Beach in Sihanoukville makes tenth on the list.

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This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on March 2, 2015.