10 Beaches That Should Be on Your Bucket List

Maya Bay, Thailand (Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on January 3, 2014. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: Australia, beach, Bora-Bora, destination, Harbour Island, Jamie Moore, La Digue Island, Playa Grande, Punaluu, Siesta Key, St Tropez, Thailand, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Maya Bay, Thailand (Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

Head to the world's most iconic stretches of sand—beaches with bragging rights, places worth dipping into your savings account for. We're taking you from Hawaii's inky basalt grains to the blinding white silica of Australia's Whitsunday Island, with a stop at a Bahamas beach. These 10 bucket-list beaches are so impossibly picture-perfect that you have to see them in person to believe they're not photoshopped.


Siesta Key Beach, Sarasota, Florida

This stretch of snow-white Florida sand was recently named the number-one beach in America on the annual Top 10 Beaches list by Dr. Beach, coastal expert Dr. Stephen Leatherman. What sets Siesta Key Beach apart is the texture of its sand. Composed almost entirely of crushed quartz crystal, it's so fine that it feels like satiny baby powder or powdered sugar. And a huge swath of it spreads hundreds of yards wide, offering lots of room for Frisbee and sand volleyball courts. Siesta Key Beach is clean and groomed every morning, making it an ideal place to go beachcombing for the many shells and sand dollars that roll in with the tide.

Best Time to Go: Anytime. The sand never gets hot and the waves are normally measured in inches (not feet) year-round.

Hidden Gems: Check out the Sunday evening drum circle and the sand-sculpting contests held several times a year.

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