TEN BEST

We crossed nine coun­tries on six con­ti­nents — and a whole lot of sand — to bring you our favourite beaches world­wide

Canadian Geographic - - CONTENTS - By Cana­dian Geo­graphic Travel staff

FOR SOME HARDWIRED rea­son, the few sandy me­tres be­tween firm land and end­less ocean cap­ti­vate us. Is it the Dna-deep pull of wa­tery roots? The leisure of the sand and ro­mance of the sea? A sea­sonal crav­ing for a mas­sive vi­ta­min D fix? Pon­der that as you mix a mai tai and sink your toes into these bliss­ful beaches.

Bahía In­glesa, Chile

Most of Chile’s coast is washed by the Hum­boldt Cur­rent, an Antarc­tic up­welling that can make beaches rather in­hos­pitable for swim­ming. But the re­sort town of Bahía In­glesa, in the Ata­cama Desert about 75 kilo­me­tres west of Copi­apó, is grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity thanks to its long stretch of white sand and warm crys­talline pools shel­tered by rocky out­crops — per­fect for act­ing out your mer­maid fan­tasies.

Her­ring Cove Beach, Cape Cod, Mass.

There aren’t many beaches on North Amer­ica’s East Coast where you can watch a sun­set flare out over the At­lantic, but be­cause Cape Cod is shaped like a burly arm flexed west, long, nar­row Her­ring Cove Beach (on the “fist”) pro­vides these nightly py­rotech­nics. Here, the crowds are of­ten sparse and the dunes and tidal pools mag­nif­i­cent. From the am­ple park­ing lot off Route 6A, the “adult” strips — LGBT and, yes, un­sanc­tioned nud­ists — are to the left, and most oth­ers fol­low the shore­line right.

Boca Chica, Do­mini­can Repub­lic

Lo­cated a 25-minute drive east of the bustling cap­i­tal of Santo Domingo, Boca Chica beach, with its shal­low cove pro­tected by a coral reef, is where Do­mini­canos go to un­wind with fam­ily and friends on week­ends. No sprawl­ing, ex­clu­sive re­sorts here — just loud mu­sic, cold beer and warm, clear wa­ter. Bring snorkelling gear and swim be­tween the man­grove islets at the edge of the reef.

Horse­shoe Bay Beach, Ber­muda

The pink beaches of Ber­muda are glob­ally renowned, but the is­land na­tion’s most fa­mous is on aptly named Horse­shoe Bay. Tourists and lo­cals alike are drawn to this south­ern shore by the rosy grains made of crushed shells, coral and red foraminifera, as well as the shel­tered elec­tric-turquoise waters. Tow­els, chairs, snorkel gear, boo­gie and wake­boards can be rented on-site, and the sur­round­ing rock for­ma­tions await ex­plo­ration. Tip: walk east for smaller but less crowded sands.

Claigan Coral Beach, Isle of Skye, Scot­land

Coral? In Scot­land? Yes, but in name only. Still, this gor­geous cres­cent of white sand formed from fos­silized sun-bleached al­gae is a Gaelic idyll not to be missed. In fall it’s too chilly for laz­ing on the beach, so spend a day ex­plor­ing, climb­ing a nearby hill called the Ghrobain for a bet­ter view of Loch Dun­ve­gan (watch for sea ot­ters and seals) and, at low tide, ven­tur­ing about 150 me­tres out to Lam­pay Is­land — a get­away within a get­away.

Côte de Granit Rose, France

This rocky, fairy­tale coast in Brit­tany gives new mean­ing to la vie en rose. The pink-gran­ite mono­liths for­ti­fy­ing the shore are fan­tas­ti­cal, if not invit­ing to bathers, but those who trek part of the Sen­tier des Douaniers (a 1,800-kilo­me­tre coast-guard trail cut in the 1700s) be­tween towns such as Per­ros-Guirec and Tré­gas­tel will find sandy in­ter­ludes in the ruddy rockscape where the Bre­ton blue-green seas ri­val the Caribbean.

Betty’s Bay, South Africa

Par­adise is tucked be­tween the moun­tains and the sea in West­ern Cape. While in Betty’s Bay (a hol­i­day town known for white sand and rugged coastal rocks), visit Main or Sil­ver Sands beaches to sun­bathe, surf or swim, or en­joy the tran­quil seclu­sion at Jock’s Bay. Na­ture lovers will find the famed Harold Porter Na­tional Botan­i­cal Gar­dens and Stony Point African pen­guin colony nearby, but to get the heart rac­ing again, go sand­board­ing down the Bles­berg or Hangk­lip dunes.

Hateno­hama Beach, Kume Is­land, Ja­pan

Fre­netic neon-lit mega­lopolises, serene Shinto shrines, steam­ing hot springs and im­preg­nable feu­dal-era cas­tles. Think of Ja­pan and one of these im­ages will likely pop into your head. Here’s another that likely won’t but should — beaches. The best are scat­tered across the south­west­ern Ryuku Is­lands, in­clud­ing Hateno­hama, a sev­enkilo­me­tre bar of pris­tine white sand that can only be reached by boat. Div­ing and snorkelling are the main draws, but there might be no bet­ter spot in which to act the cast­away.

Hot Wa­ter Beach, New Zea­land

Com­bine the am­biance of a beach with the com­fort of a hot spring. Lo­cated on New Zea­land’s east­ern Coro­man­del Penin­sula, this typ­i­cally quiet beach ( above) can get busy in the two hours be­fore and af­ter low tide, when the sea ex­poses sandy ar­eas atop deep vol­canic fis­sures that leak min­eral wa­ter as hot as 64 C. Dig a hole, cre­ate a hot tub.

Black Sand Beach, Alaska

Get­ting to Black Sand Beach can be quite an ad­ven­ture. Ac­ces­si­ble only by kayak or boat, reach­ing the shore re­quires weav­ing be­tween ice­bergs and bits of fallen glacier in Prince Wil­liam Sound. Yet vis­i­tors are re­warded with a cov­eted, quiet camp­ing spot — char­coal-dark sands at the foot of moun­tains, where tide­wa­ter glaciers crawl down the slopes to hug the wa­ter’s edge.

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