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The World’s Best Beaches

“The wide ocean, sand underfoot, waves crashing, gulls calling — what’s not to like about any beach?” When it comes to sun and sand, we’ve got to agree with IndependentTraveler.com member wannabe; we’ve rarely met a beach we didn’t like. But let’s face it, some beaches are more memorable than others, whether it’s for their ultra-soft sand, crystal-clear waters, beautiful sunsets or spectacular scenery. So which ones are the world’s best?

To answer that question, we turned to our well-traveled members, who’ve toted their beach towels and flip-flops everywhere from Cape Cod to Cape Town. Many of you wrote in praise of exotic destinations like India and Tahiti, while others found their own beach paradise a bit closer to home, in popular family vacation spots such as Montauk, NY, and Oceanside, CA. Read on to see your diverse list of the world’s best beaches.

Palolem Beach, Goa, India

“Palolem Beach in Southern Goa is my favorite beach. I went there last April while traveling around India. It was recently used in the Matt Damon film ‘The Bourne Supremacy.’ It is crescent shaped with white sand and is absolutely breathtaking. I found that there wasn’t a lot to do there though but the beach is well worth a visit if you’re in that part of the world.” — Iolar

Assateague Island, Maryland and Virginia

“I would have to say that my favorite beach destination would be Assateague Island, Maryland. My family enjoys camping on the beach. It is quiet and peaceful. The wildlife is awesome too. Ocean City (MD) is a stone’s throw away. This is actually a restful destination!” — jmaldet

Rio de Janeiro Beaches, Brazil

“I love Rio de Janeiro, Brazil!!! Specifically Ipanema and Copacabana. These beaches are absolutely great. I spent four months out of 2006 here in Rio. Absolutely love the place.” —foofiter

Montauk, Long Island, New York

“I spend my summers ‘on Montauk,’ as we lovingly call it. Technically, I guess, it is similar to other New England beaches, particularly Cape Cod/Nantucket/Martha’s Vineyard, in its ‘beach feel,’ with the geography being very similar to the others. It is extremely laid-back, though, and it really earns its ‘un-Hamptons’ moniker.” — Up4Travel

Bondi Beach, Australia

“Bondi Beach in Australia is very beautiful and there is so much to do there as well. Cliff walk, surf, sunbathe, hit the cafes along the beachfront … chill out and realize that something this beautiful really does exist in the world. The extra-nice part of Bondi Beach is that it’s home to the nicest people in the world.” — Host Bonjour

Big Island Beaches, Hawaii

“My favorite beaches are on the Big Island in Hawaii. First is Kaunaoa Beach (Mauna Kea Beach) for the best sand and a great setting. Use is not restricted to hotel guests — all beaches are public. My husband loves Hapuna Beach, and we also enjoy the beach at Anaehoomalu Bay which has great palm tree shade, sea turtles and sunsets, but not much surf. For black sand, we favor Punaluu Beach with its sea turtles. All are beautiful!” — KayTee

Durban Beaches, South Africa

“Having stayed along the coastline for my whole life, I would have to say that South African beaches are the best and most beautiful! In Durban alone you can go to quiet secluded beaches and then a little less than a few kilometers away you can get more ‘party’ happening beaches! We have soft white beach sand and you can also swim in the water as it’s not so cold.” — tashaw6

Crane Beach, Barbados

“I loved Crane Beach, in Barbados. It’s one of those traditional pink sand beaches with gorgeous blue waters and a natural coral reef. You don’t have to stay at the Crane Hotel to visit the beach (but if you don’t, you have to pay a little fee — totally worth it). I like that it actually has some waves too, unlike some other Caribbean beaches that may as well be big bathtubs.” — soliteyah

Oceanside, California

“Being a single mom with two kids and working two jobs along with attending school, my children and I just LOVE our family getaways. We live in Arizona, so it is only a 4.5-hour drive to California. Through our timeshare we enjoy Oceanside, California. We stabigy at the Southern California Beach Club, which is right on the ocean, next to the pier. On the pier is one of the famous ‘Ruby’s.’ I can do one stop at the grocery store, then the whole time is spent boogie boarding, sunbathing or just sitting in the warm glistening sand.” — prodigalaz

Moorea Beaches, French Polynesia

“I’ve never seen water as beautiful as in French Polynesia. In Moorea, there are excursions to private motus, secluded islands where you can sleep on the beach and swim with friendly stingrays.” — travelmel

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