What’s better than a day at the beach? A day when no one else is there!
I experienced the magic of having a beach all to myself one windy morning at the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Although I had to walk quite a ways to reach the shore, it was totally worth it to know that I was the only person around for over a mile in every direction.
While I can’t guarantee that these “hidden” beaches will be totally deserted if you visit, they’re far enough off the beaten path that they shouldn’t be crawling with tourists, either.
Makua Beach, Hawaii
Pretty much every acre of Hawaii is beautiful. However, visitors to Honolulu know that this island paradise can also be heavily overdeveloped. This secluded, white-sand beach is one of Oahu’s hidden treasures.
Although it’s relatively close to Makaha Beach, which sees plenty of avid surfers during the winter, Makau Beach remains an undiscovered gem. As part of Ka’ena Point State Park, the area is serviced only by a narrow road. To get deeper into the park, which is sacred Native Hawaiian land, you’ll need to hike.
La Playuela, Puerto Rico
Locally known as Playa Sucia (literally, “dirty beach,” but don’t let the name fool you), this is one of the least developed beaches in Puerto Rico. Located on the Caribbean side of the island, this beach requires a bit of a trek to reach. Once you’re there, however, the natural beauty makes everything worthwhile. This is an especially great spot for birdwatchers.
If you had to guess whether Belgium had any beaches, let alone ones this beautiful, you probably would have said no. Located in West Flanders, this beach overlooks the North Sea. The town of Knokke-Heist offers plenty of luxurious accommodations, restaurants, and shopping. But even though this is Belgium’s premiere seaside resort… it’s still Belgium. You’re likely to encounter mostly locals here.
Broken Beach Arch, Bali
You can’t go wrong with pretty much any part of Bali. It’s one of the most breathtaking places on Earth, after all. Broken Beach is a hidden treasure, located on Nusa Penida island. The island is best navigated by moped or by guided tour. Once you arrive, you’ll see this nearly circular cove has a secret gateway to the ocean. Not only can you walk across the arch (if you aren’t afraid of heights), but afterward you can take a short walk to catch a glimpse of the giant manta rays that populate the waters.
Navagio Beach, Greece
Few sights in this world are as incredible as Greece’s Shipwreck Cove. You’ll need to head to the island of Zakynthos, which tends to be less visited than other areas of the Greek coastline. It’s a good idea to plan for plenty of time to explore here, as you’ll want to get some postcard-worthy shots from the top of the cliffs before heading down to the beach itself. The only way to reach the beach–and the shipwreck in question–is by boat tour. Be aware that the cliff paths aren’t well maintained and very challenging to hike.
Pfeiffer Beach, California
Wait, a hidden beach… in California?! Surely not. South of Big Sur Station, you’ll have to keep a lookout for an unmarked road off Highway 1 that will take you the two miles to shore. Note that because the road is so narrow and winding, you won’t be able to bring an RV or camper. Once you arrive, you’ll be treated to incredible natural rock formations–and very few fellow tourists.
Shela Beach, Kenya
When you think of Kenya, you probably picture the rolling plains of the savannah. However, this African country also boasts a spectacular coastline. Located on Lamu Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site, Shela Beach is only accessible by boat. Once you’re there, however, you’ll find a thriving and artistic community along with a wide range of accommodations and restaurants not far from the pristine beach.
Whitehaven Beach, Australia
Located in the Whitsunday Islands National Park, this stunning beach is sheltered by protected parkland on one side and the Great Barrier Reef on the other. The serene blue waters swirling through the pure white sand looks like something from another world. Snorkeling, swimming, and hiking are all popular here. If you have the time (and the budget), consider booking a seaplane or helicopter tour to witness the once-in-a-lifetime view from above.
Kynance Cove, UK
Even though it’s an island, we don’t hear much about the UK’s beaches. Aside from Brighton, which has an Atlantic City vibe, most of England’s coastline is rocky and rugged. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If your idea of paradise is less about sandy beaches and more about cliffs overlooking the sea, then you need to book a ticket to Cornwall. Be advised that to reach Kynance Cove, you’ll need to climb down a steep flight of steps.