Paradise Found

Life’s better at the beach, don’t you think? If you like to follow the sun and escape our mild (come on, let’s be honest) winters, we’ve found the world’s best beaches for you

Medjumbe Island, Mozambique

Medjumbe Island is just 1km long and barely 300 metres wide; a dot in the absurdly clear, 28°C aqua-marine waters of the Quirimbas Archipelago in far northern Mozambique. You can reach this tropical island only as a guest of Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort and, boy, is it worth it. Also a site for marine biodiversity, it’s an important feeding area for turtles and a nursery for humpback dolphins and whales. After a spot of scuba diving or snorkelling, they’ll set up a lobster barbecue and deliver cold beers and Piña Coladas to you on the beach. What are you waiting for?

Anse Lazio, Praslin Island, Seychelles  

There’s widespread consensus that Anse Lazio is the best beach in the Seychelles. Situated at the tip of Praslin Island, this postcard-perfect scene ticks every single box for a perfect holiday beach; velvety white sands, ridiculously blue water, pretty little fish, leaning palm trees and huge granite boulders washed over by shallow waves. It’s tucked away, but the effort in getting here by bus and a walk, or car, is well worth it. Leave now.

Nungwe Beach, Zanzibar, Tanzania 

At the far northern end of Zanzibar there’s a talcum powder white beach that stretches right around the tip of the island. Persistent locals aren’t shy to offer you boat trips out to the reef for scuba diving and snorkelling, or sunset dhow cruises—because that’s what people come here for. You can always retreat to your resort or beach bungalow, and let their staff make the arrangements for your excursion into the blue waters of the Indian Ocean. Oh, not to be in England when spring is there!

Phra Nang Beach, Krabi, Thailand

This beach puts you right in the middle of those captivating Thailand beach photos, where limestone cliffs and tall craggy islands rise out of aqua-marine waters. If it reminds you of a movie set, you’d be right. The Beach starring a fresh-faced Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed in Krabi province. Like Leo, you may very well be steaming up the joint with a sultry average daily temperature of 32°C. To keep your cool in this kind of heat, avoid the rainy months from July to November, and pour yourself another daiquiri. 

Sipadan Island, Borneo, Malaysia

Located off the north-east coast of Sabah, Borneo, this tiny limestone atoll in the South China Sea has a soft sand beach encircling a tiny patch of rainforest at its centre. It may just be the most remote island you’ll ever come across. It lies in the heart of one of the richest marine habitats in the world and is the holy grail of scuba diving with a 600-metre wall of coral, guaranteed shark sightings with turtles close enough to touch. (But don’t.) Make sure you take a moonlight walk around the island––you’ll feel a million miles away. And you will be.

Pedn Vounder, Cornwall, England

Little coves filled with tidal sandbars trapping warm seawater into shallow lagoons make the water of Pedn Vounder about as warm as you are going to find in England. The beach looks different each day according to how the wind and tides have shaped it, but there’s no doubt of its rugged beauty. There’s a little café and some accommodation nearby, but the beach remains private due to the tricky descent across rocks. If the feelings of carefree abandonment at having reached the beach inspire you to bare all, it’s not unusual or frowned upon here. “What, what?” as Bertie Wooster might say.

Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Islands, Australia 

Out of all the beaches in Australia’s tropical Whitsunday Islands, Whitehaven Beach, with 7km of pure white, squeaky silica sand (so fine it’s never too hot to walk on) and the bluest water ever, is top of the list. It’s a popular day trip from the mainland by yacht, tour boat, seaplane or helicopter. Once other tourists have gone home you could camp here and have this place to yourself. But paradise sometimes bites back and at certain times of the year you must wear full-body stinger suits against the stinging jellyfish. Not everything can be perfect in paradise, eh, mate?

Belle Mare, Mauritius

Considered one of the best beaches on this honeymoon island, Belle Mare beach is one of the best spots for sunbathing and dipping into the clear, warm Indian Ocean. There are plenty of trés chic resorts a few paces from the sand, which are one-stop shops for all your needs and desires; water sports, deep sea fishing, entertainment, excursions, spa treatments and seafood feasts. With Mauritius just a 5½ hour flight from Johannesburg and some bargain all-inclusive packages, there’s an umbrella on Belle Mare beach … with your name on it.

Mdumbi Beach, Wild Coast, South Africa

Immerse yourself in real Africa on the Transkei coast, where mud-rondavels of amaXhosa villages are dotted over the rolling hills. Few roads, even fewer people and the curving sandy bay of Mdumbi means you have arrived at one of the most tranquil beaches in the whole of South Africa. It also has a rather good surf break too. As the crow flies it’s only about 7km from the laid-back hippie town of Coffee Bay, but due to hills, valleys and river courses, it takes an indirect 50 minutes to get between the two. But, dude, what’s the hurry, and you’re on your home turf.

Tsarabanjina Island, Madagascar

This was the Castaway island for the UK series featuring absolutely fabulous Joanna Lumley. It’s the perfect isolated paradise island; powder sand, azure waters, coral reefs straight off the beach and lush vegetation. Walk the island in an hour or stay within close reach of a cocktail brought to you on the beach from the Constance Tsarabanjina Resort. You wont feel bad for bringing sandy feet into your thatched beach bungalow right on the beach. Now that’s a holiday in itself. Get there by 90-minute speedboat or helicopter flip from Nosy Be. You’ll never want to leave.