Between pop culture and the simple fact that summer is now upon us, the beach is on everyone’s mind. Sun, surf, and shades—it’s truly hard to get better than that.
But not all beaches are created equal. Some of the world’s sands are absolutely superior, and we wanted to give you a taste of that. So, go ahead and pack your favorite pair of sunglasses and start saving your shekels, because these five drop-dead gorgeous beaches are going to inspire you to make moves pronto.
1. Amalfi Coast | Location: Campania, Italy
Five million annual visitors can’t be wrong—this place is dope.
Situated in Italy’s famous Campania region, the 24 miles of beach property—a UNESCO World Heritage site—offers stunning vistas full of lush, coastal cliffs and dazzling, rainbow-colored homes. There are a total of 13 towns connected by highway stretching along the Amalfi Coast, and all overlook the sea. The town of Amalfi itself, for example, is Italy’s most ancient maritime republic, while Cetara offers something uniquely special—a Norman tower that legend suggests was built by Hercules.
2. Honokalani Beach | Location: Maui, Hawaii
Part of the Wai'anapanapa State Park, Honokalani Beach features sunning foliage and, most notably, an absolutely wicked-looking jet-black beach. Cool fact: The sand receives its fanciful coloring thanks to its makeup of minuscule lava pebbles.
3. Ipanema Beach | Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Two miles long, Ipanema Beach is a welcoming stretch of sand for anyone looking for some seriously hot beach bodies and a seriously wild time. Gyms line the area, which is known as a party hub—boardwalk vendors sell caipirinhas, a.k.a. the national cocktail of Brazil. The Sugarloaf Mountain rises gloriously behind it all, too—and oh, just check out that sunset!
4. El Castillo | Location: Tulum, Mexico
Ridiculously clear, turquoise water—just look at it—meets an incredible white sand beach in Tulum. As if this wasn’t enough, majestic, ancient Mayan ruins overlook the playful scene from the cliffs above, meaning that everything from kite surfing to temple climbing can be on the itinerary.
5. Mosquito Bay | Location: Vieques, Puerto Rico
Image Credit: Puerto Rico Blogger
No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you—those waves are glowing an electric blue. But how?
It turns out that Mosquito Bay, a.k.a. Bioluminescent Bay, is the beneficiary of a true wonder of nature. Dinoflagellates—single-celled organisms, most of which are marine plankton—light up when disturbed, creating a dazzling neon water experience. If it gets on you, you’ll be covered in crystals of bioluminescence, too. And don’t head for shelter in the event of a rainstorm… the falling precipitation will cause the entire bay to blossom into a world of fantasy.