Secret beaches are secluded seafront getaways still unspoiled by the effects of mass tourism. These hallowed spots have long been a sought-after destination for intrepid travellers, especially beach lovers. Once you’ve found your hidden slice of paradise, there’s no better feeling than laying a towel on its pristine sands with scarcely another sunbather in sight.

    But with world-favourite destinations more packed with tourists than ever before, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to find your own sandy Shangri-La. Check out our list of the most spectacular secret beaches on Earth so you can enjoy a spot of extreme R&R on your next seaside holiday.

    1

    Pansea Beach, Phuket, Thailand

    A little-known Phuket paradise

    Pansea Beach only welcomes a handful of sun-worshippers each day. Although the blindingly white stretch of sand is among Phuket’s best, its location behind 2 upscale resorts makes it complicated for non-guests to reach.

    The only public access point is a notoriously well-hidden path, meaning few folks venture to Pansea other than the hotel guests of The Surin Phuket. From afar, one could be forgiven for thinking Pansea is privately owned by the adjacent resorts. This isn’t the case, though. All Thai beaches are open to the public so these pristine sands are utterly fair game, but you'll have to take a boat from nearby Surin beach.

    Let's go

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    2

    Cabo de la Vela, Colombia

    Secluded desert landscapes and a beautiful secret beach

    Perched on the continent’s northern tip, Cabo de la Vela is a hidden South American gem that attracts a few visitors each year. Throughout the region, travellers are vastly outnumbered by the indigenous Wayuu people, whose fascinating ancient traditions and colourful artisanal wares remain proudly on display. And with beautiful yellow playas framed by imposing sandstone cliffs, Cabo de la Vela itself is a sight to behold.

    Only a handful of low-key guesthouses line the arid landscape, so don’t come expecting a luxury ocean resort experience. What you will get, though, are hauntingly beautiful vistas, spellbinding west-facing sunsets, and an exciting array of water sports.

    Yes, I'm in

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    3

    Alamere Falls Beach, California, USA

    Where a waterfall meets the ocean

    Alamere Falls Beach is a magical place where you can enjoy both a waterfall and a seaside experience in one. And given its extreme isolation in California’s remote Point Reyes National Seashore, it’s more than likely you’ll get to enjoy the dazzling natural display all to yourself.

    The reason for the Alamere’s distinct lack of visitors is that it involves an 8.5-mile round trip hike to reach. And this gruelling trail is no walk in the park, as you’ll encounter knee-high stream crossings, rough scrambling sections, and some poison ivy overgrowth along the way. It’ll all be worth it in the end, though, as the thundering 15-metre falls look breathtaking as they cascade into the ocean.

    Discover now

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    4

    Praia do Sancho, Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

    Perhaps 'the most beautiful beach in the world'

    Praia do Sancho has been voted 'the most beautiful beach in the world' multiple times, yet only a handful of lucky sun-seekers ever find their way to these pristine powdery sands. And the reason for the surprising lack of visitors is obvious – Praia do Sancho is remarkably hard to reach.

    Not only does it require a domestic flight to the far-flung island of Fernando de Noronha, but the steep descent to Praia do Sancho is no easy feat. Upon paying a pricey national park fee, you’ll need to clamber down a series of precarious ladders on a near-vertical cliff before squeezing through multiple rocky crevasses. Of course, frolicking in the turquoise-tinged waters of this lush crescent-shaped bay will make the journey worthwhile in the end.

    Take me to the sun

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    5

    Vatersay Beach, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, UK

    A stunning Caribbean-style beach where you least expect it

    Welcome to Vatersay Bay, a sun-kissed white sand beach in the most unlikely of places. This remote island paradise resides within the southernmost of Scotland’s inhabited Outer Hebrides and has earned itself a stellar reputation for its serene natural beauty.

    The sun-drenched beach is a bit of a novelty in Scotland, a country more famous for its grey skies and green rolling hills. But boasting crystal-clear waters and swathes of wildflower-laden machair grass, Vatersay Bay is more than happy to be the exception to the rule. Of course, the water is cold this far north so it's only suitable for swimming in the height of summer, but you can admire the boisterous seals from the shore at any time of year.

    Explore now

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    6

    Lord Howe Island, New South Wales, Australia

    A beautiful island paradise Down Under

    Lord Howe Island is Australia’s final frontier, a far-flung and exotic isle known for its unrivalled natural splendour. And with a mere 400 visitors permitted at any one time, this exceptionally appealing island always feels far from overcrowded.

    Those lucky enough to visit must first obtain authorised accommodation before taking a 700-km flight from Sydney. Upon arrival, activities such as diving, snorkelling, golf, and swimming see you make the most of the stunning UNESCO-listed site. Its hiking trails are particularly popular, boasting beautiful banyan tree groves teeming with vibrant birdlife.

    Dive in

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    7

    St Andrew's Beach, Jekyll Island, Georgia, USA

    Seldom-visited by humans – not so for dolphins

    St Andrew‘s Beach resides on the southern edge of Jekyll Island, a picturesque recreational playground not far north of the Florida-Georgia border. Visitors from both states and beyond come to hike, bike, kayak, and relax on Jekyll, although relatively few make it as far as St Andrew’s Beach.

    The strikingly beautiful marsh-facing beach was once a notorious spot for slave traders to smuggle their human cargo into the mainland. These days, St Andrew’s is more popular with dolphin watchers who come to spot the curious creatures as they bop between the waves. A viewing platform, hiking trail, and picnic area make it a pleasant place to linger.

    Jump in

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    8

    Cirali Beach, Turkey

    Exotic seascapes with a mix of history and leisure

    Cirali Beach is Turkey’s undiscovered seaside gem – a breathtaking stretch of turquoise water flanked by tree-studded limestone cliffs. Most holidaymakers don’t bother making the 1.5-hour journey from Antalya, so you’ll enjoy this pristine spot with only a few other souls in sight.

    Family-run restaurants serve tasty Turkish food and ice-cold beer along the shore, and there are even a few low-key spots to sleep should you fancy staying the night. Just south of the beach, a picturesque trail winds past a tranquil creek to the ruins of Olympos – an ancient Lycian city that dates back to the Hellenistic Period.

    Beach, please

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    9

    Llevant Beach, Formentera, Spain

    A blissful Balearic beach

    Llevant Beach is one of Formentera’s most secluded spots, making it a paradise for anyone on a mission to get away from all the action over on nearby Ibiza. An easy hike over the dunes from Illetes Beach sees serenity-seeking travellers arrive at Llevant, whose exposure to the winds keeps the vast majority of holidaymakers at bay. The wind whips up the waves though, so it’s a choice spot for surfers and their ilk.

    But when the weather is calm, Llevant is among the top spots on the island for its crystal clear waters and sugary-white sand. Such extreme isolation also makes it a favourite haunt for naturists, who come to soak up the sun’s rays sans swimwear.

    Take a dip

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    10

    Long Beach, Perhentian Island, Malaysia

    Scuba diving hotspot with carefree nightlife to match

    Long Beach has a growing reputation on the Southeast Asian diving scene, with several accredited SCUBA schools offering PADI packages at cutthroat prices. And with underwater enthusiasts comes a series of bopping bars, ensuring there’s always a lively beach party going on during the dry season from November to May. Just remember to bring enough cash with you because there are no ATMs on the island. It's literally just a series of sandy bays with dirt tracks linking them – no roads here!

    For an even more secluded seaside escape, a 15-minute jungle hike sees you arrive at the sleepy village of Coral Bay. Alternatively, jump on a taxi boat to the adjacent island of Perhentian Besar, where an array of romance-inducing bungalows line the picture-perfect shores.

    Just take me there already

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    Harry Stewart | Contributing Writer

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