Photos: Top 10 breathtaking beaches around the world!
TripAdvisor recently announced its list of top beach destinations that were chosen by millions of travellers across the world. Check out which beach destinations made it to the top ten list.
We recently carried this story on TripAdvisor's 2012 Travellers' Choice Beach Destination Awards where Goa dominated the India list with eight of its ten beaches appearing in the top ten.
Today we take you through the list of top ten beach destinations in the world as drawn up from millions of reviews and opinions of travellers.
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Image: Breathtaking beaches around the world
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com
Number 10: Varadero, Cuba
Cuba's top beach destination sits on a 13-mile-long peninsula with powder soft sands lapped by waters of the Kawama Channel.
Resort hotels teem along the shore that US celebrities and gangsters, including Capone, discovered in the 1920s.
Clubs and bars provide mojitos and merriment, after long days baking on the beach, golfing, diving or deep sea fishing.
Rent a scooter or hop aboard an open-air tourist train or bus to see more of this stunning spot. Caves, keys and virgin forest add to the area's allure.
Image: Vacationing Cubans get ready to board a kayak near a beachfront hotel in Varadero, 145 km east of Havana.
Photographs: Reuters/Claudia Daut
Number 9: Miami Beach, USA
South Beach, or SoBe, is Miami Beach's buzziest bit. The vibrant area, with its pastel-hued buildings, hip nightclubs, trendy shops and see-and-be-seen restaurants, attracts socialites and their satellites all year round.
The Art Deco District and Haulover Beach (the city's only legal haven for nudists) are other attractions. The Beach can be affordable, depending on where you stay, eat and play.
Plan to spend some time in SoBe's cool bars; things start heating up when the sun goes down.
Miami is not only beach and malls. Once the curious visitor travels around the city, s/he will find that the neighbourhoods are what gives the city its true multicultural identity. And, each neighbourhood has a distinctive experience to offer.
Coral Gables, minutes away from Miami International Airport, is an upscale commercial and residential neighbourhood with ample avenues and streets. It is good place to walk or do some shopping along Miracle Mile or in the luxurious Merrick Place Mall.
Coconut Grove is a bohemian neighbourhood, preferred by artists and intellectuals who live in cottage-like house in the midst of a tropical forest.
Little Havana is the Latin District where Cubans leave their mark in the urban landscape and the dynamics of everyday life.
The Design District is a renovated neighbourhood north downtown, with the avant-garde furniture and fashion design studios.
Downtown Miami, where history meets the future as skyscrapers take the place of empty lots and run down buildings, offer the traveller upscale hotels, shopping opportunities and new art and entertainment venues for enjoyment.
And of course, South Beach, where the beach takes on the landscape of this laid back area of Miami, offers its Art Deco Hotels and bars and young hip ambience.
Image: Miami Beach, USA
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com
Number 8: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Punta Cana, on the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, is what Caribbean postcards are made of: twenty-five miles of white sand, swaying coconut trees and more than 35 resorts (which by law cannot be taller than a palm tree).
European tourists long ago discovered Punta Cana and Americans are now catching on.
At this affordable tropical getaway, most guests choose to stay in all-inclusive resorts. The town itself isn't a tourist draw; the primary purpose of Punta Cana is relaxation by the sea.
Image: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Photographs: Niedźwiadek78/Creative Commons
Number 7: Cancun, Mexico
The name Cancun means 'golden snakes', but you won't find any venom in this sun-kissed Yucatan paradise.
The most popular destination in Mexico, Cancun beckons with stunning aqua-blue waters and white-sand beaches.
While Cancun's reputation is for spring-break fun, wholesome activities for the family can be found: Ride horses on the coast, snorkel and canoe in a reserve, swim with the dolphins. If all this leaves you sun-blind, plenty of bars and fine restaurants tempt at the end of the day.
Cancun is divided into two main sections, the island that hosts most of the hotels and resorts and the mainland where downtown Cancun stands.
The most famous tourist neighbourhood is the hotel zone on the island. Aside from the corridors of large hotels and resorts, this area is also home to some excellent entertainment and dining. There are a number of shopping areas here as well, but they tend to be more expensive than the shopping downtown. The hotel zone is home to the most trendy discos and entertainment that Cancun has to offer.
Downtown Cancun is connected to the hotel zone by Kukulcan Boulevard, which is lined along some stretches with reproductions of pre-Hispanic Mayan structures. The downtown area is fully recovered from the hurricane with all markets, restaurants and bars being open.
Check out Yaxchilan Avenue for a great stretch of restaurants and bars, authentic food, hotels. Prices far more reasonable than the Hotel Zone.
Parque Las Palapas has weekend festivals with crafts, music and food. Wander the surrounding area for mom and pop restaurants and local taco vendors.
Other interesting neighbourhoods to the north are: Puerto Juarez, Playa Mujeres and Isla Blanca. You can take a ferry from Puerto Juarez to Isla Mujeres. Puerto Juarez looks a little ugly and run down, but further north it gets much better. A private resort and a Golf course are being built in Playa Mujeres.
Note: Playa Mujeres is the continental part of the municipality of Isla Mujeres, ie: Isla Mujeres (island) has jurisdiction over land in the continent, north of Puerto Juarez.
The nearby Tulum ruins (+1.5 hrs drive south) were not affected by the recent storm and make for a breathtaking visit.
Image: Cancun, Mexico
Photographs: TechSavi/Creative Commons
Number 6: Boracay, Philippines
The tropical island of Boracay, in north Aklan Province, is one of the Philippines' most popular destinations. Its white sand beaches are the island's main draws.
Choose from Yapak Beach, with its white shells, White Beach, with its amazing sunsets, and romantic, secluded Balinghai Beach. Off the sands, good restaurants, enticing shopping and Boracay Butterfly Garden provide other appealing diversions.
Explore the 4.5-mile-long island by motorized pedicab or rent a bicycle or motorbike from your resort.
Boracay is divided into three main districts: Yapak in the north, Balabag in the center, and Manoc-Manoc in the south. Central Boracay is situated in the mid-west of the island along White Beach.
This is the beach area at Angol, located south of boat station 3; a quiet and peaceful stretch of the White Beach.
Image: Boracay, Philippines
Photographs: Reuters/Romeo Ranoco
Number 5: Saint Pete Beach, USA
Sugary-white sand, dolphins frolicking just off shore and eight major barrier islands make St Pete Beach a postcard-perfect seaside destination.
Situated on a peninsula off Florida's west coast, it balances its oceanfront charms with top-notch art museums, including the largest collection of Salvador Dali paintings outside of Spain.
Kayak through the calm waters, take a ferry to nearby Caladesi Island State Park to experience the state's wild beauty or stroll the rapidly gentrifying downtown for one-of-a-kind cafes.
Image: Saint Pete Beach, USA
Photographs: Andre Bulber/Creative Commons
Number 4: Negril, Jamaica
Hedonistic Negril beats to a reggae pulse. Major tourist areas are Seven Mile Beach, home to adult-oriented resorts, and the West End, with smaller, more laid-back accommodations and beaches, shops and restaurants within walking distance.
Get a cool drink and watch the sunset from Rick's Bar. Gaze at dramatic Negril Cliffs, which provided backdrops to James Bond's Thunderball. If your hotel doesn't offer a shuttle, take minibuses. Or set a different pace and trot off on a horseback tour.
Negril has two major areas of interest to tourists -- the West End and Seven Mile Beach.
Seven Mile Beach is home to the popular adult-oriented hedonistic resorts, such as SuperClubs Hedonism II, located along Norman Manley Highway, northeast from the town centre.
Beautiful beach areas are located all along the coast, with several designated nude and topless areas. In addition to the beaches and resorts, several restaurants can be found along the main road in this area.
The West End stretches along the coast of the island southwest from the town centre, following West End Road, which becomes Lighthouse Road, named after the Negril Lighthouse located here.
Off the West End or 'One Love Drive' there are lots of little roads and communities well worth a visit if you want to experience the real local Jamaica., such as West Land Mountain just after you leave the downtown Negril.
The impressive Negril Cliffs tower over the ocean at the end of this road. In contrast to the mega resorts of Seven Mile Beach, here you will find smaller, more laid back and subdued getaways, while still having access to great beaches, shops and restaurants, all within walking distance.
Image: Negril, Jamaica
Photographs: Greg Walters/Creative Commons
Number 3: Tulum, Mexico
Tulum lies south of Playa del Carmen, with lush, bougainvillea-filled jungle at its back. The town of 10,000 is divided into three separate sections, the Mayan ruins, the hotel zone and the pueblo.
Popular with tour buses from Cancun, the ruins, some of the best preserved in the Yucatan, perch on cliffs along the coast. Those staying in Tulum can easily bike around, or explore swimming opportunities off white sand beaches and in subterranean sinkholes. The clear Caribbean waters also offer great diving.
Tulum beach is the 'Tulum hotel zone', which consists of a strip of cabanas which has been developed on property between the beach and the coastal highway. Most hotels are very small, consisting of 10-15 cabanas, though larger hotels can be found, with up to 45-50 cabanas.
At the end of the main access road to the beach road, you can turn left or right.
If you turn right and head south, this road leads to the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve and at the very end of the road you'll find the fishing village of Punta Allen.
This road can be in very bad shape particularly after the rains. Think twice about driving a rental car down or if you do, take it very slow and easy.
The sheer beauty of this region makes it worth the 2-3 hour trip! Great scenic views along the way to stop at!
The ruins of Tulum can be accessed by walking north up the beach from the hotel zone, or walking up the coastal highway.
To get there by car/taxi, take the access road (between the coastal highway and the main highway) back toward Tulum pueblo. Turn right at the road in front of El Crucero, or go to the main highway then left and you will see the main entrance to the ruins.
There are many dining options, and a few small hotels in Tulum pueblo. Definitely worth a visit to buy souvenirs (Mixik, nexto to Charlie's restaurant, is a great option) or to check out different restaurants.
Image: Tulum, Mexico
Photographs: Sean and Lauren / Creative Commons
Number 2: Palm/Eagle Beach, Aruba
Inhabited since the year 1000, Aruba is an island rich in history and culture. Eagle Beach is an idyllic Caribbean beach, with white sands and turquoise waters, and is frequented by water sports enthusiasts.
Palm Beach, on the island's west side, offers perfect swimming conditions and powdery sand.
Those more concerned with conditions under the waves won't want to miss the wreck of the torpedoed tanker Pedernales, a popular diving site. Aruba is only 20 miles long, thus easily explored by bike or moped
Image: Palm/Eagle Beach, Aruba
Photographs: Courtesy, Tripadvisor
Number 1: Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands
White-sand beaches, calm clear water and a bountiful barrier reef make the Turks and Caicos island of Providenciales a hot spot for families, snorkelers and divers.
Some call rock-free Grace Bay Beach the best in the world. For an unusual experience, divers can walk along the ocean floor at Smith's Reef, where underwater signs describe the reef's ecosystem.
Additional destinations include Iguana Island (home of endangered rock iguanas), the country's only golf course, art galleries and a casino.
There are original fishing villages here. These are The Bight, Blue Hills and Five Cays.
Five Cays is still where the fisheries are located.
Blue Hills is a local area with many small local eateries and bars.
The Bight stretches from the Grace Bay Road down to Turtle Cove Marina. There is one of the best places to snorkel from shore here called The Bight Reef. This is located in front of a resort here called Coral Gardens.
There is the most well known tourist area here of Grace Bay. This is where the majority of the resorts are located.
Leeward is at the Eastern end of the island of Providenciales. This is where the leeward Marina is located which is where many of the fishing and excursion companies are located. This is also a very nice residential community, rapidly expanding.
Turtle Cove Marina, is a very popular part of the Island, comprising an extended Marina, Restaurants, some shops and bars. There is a small hotel, a new Condo development for long term and short term rentals, beautiful large homes and some smaller quaint Island homes that are also rented out short term. There is a wonderful place to snorkel from the shore here called Smith's Reef.
Long Bay: This is on the South Shore and is a residential area. There is a very picturesque Beach here. long Bay Beach. It is rockier with many conch shells along the stretch of it. This is a very popular place for horse-riding and walking.
Turtle Tail: This is on The Southern Shore and is the residential area that can be seen behind The IGA Supermarket here. There is a large inland area of water here called Flamingo Lake which is very popular for bone-fishing and Flamingo watching at certain times of the Year. There is a small Marina here where two of the Dive operators go from.
Sapodilla Bay, Taylor Bay and Chalk Sound: These are higher end residential neighbourhoods. Chalk sound is the inland body of water that is the brightest shade of blue you have ever seen. Sapodilla Bay is a beautiful quiet bay. Great for children to wade into. Taylor Bay around the corner is a very beautiful and quiet bay, with some gorgeous homes set along it.
Discovery Bay and Cooper Jack: Residential area comprising extended canal systems for people to have their boats out front of their homes.
Downtown: There are some offices, banks, a few shops and government offices here. They are building a new sports centre downtown now, and there is a new Ball park and Stadium.
Kew Town: This is predominately a local/Haitian/Dominican area behind the Downtown and airport area.
Image: Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands
Photographs: Courtesy, Tripadvisor