Top Beaches to Get Away From the Crowds
A beach-vacation daydream conjures images of golden sand and swaying palm trees, and the rhythmic sounds of waves as they lap up against the shore.
In reality, beach vacations often involve hundreds of other beachgoers, screaming kids and no space to lay out a towel. Suddenly, instead of sipping cocktails while sleeping in a hammock, you’re jumping out of the way of a beach umbrella, and trying to stay zen while passerbyers kick sand in your face.
Head to one of these gorgeous, still-quiet beaches to avoid becoming a victim of an overcrowded beach — and turn your office-cubicle daydream into reality.
We can hear the sound of the waves now...
Praia da Atalaia - Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
Nothing guarantees a crowdless beach like official restrictions, so you can thank the Brazilian government for keeping Praia da Atalaia from becoming a tourist trap.
In an effort to protect this marina national park, restrictions only allow for a certain number of people to come in every day, and each visitor must have a permit. Once you’ve crossed these hurdles, you can enjoy immensely rich marine life and mirror-like water in peace.
Just make sure you leave the sunscreen at home, as use of this product is completely prohibited to protect reefs and marine life from harmful chemicals.
Bazaruto Archipelago - Mozambique
White sand dunes swirl around deep blue waters in this Mozambican paradise. Once the playground of wealthy westerners looking to enjoy a former Portuguese colony, Bazaruto is now a protected marine park.
Despite its obvious allure and relative proximity to the mainland, transportation to and between the islands can be tricky. Though flights can be arranged from the continent, they are often expensive, and once you are there, you might have to find a private boat to take you from one island to another.
The upside? The price and inconvenience keeps most beach-hungry tourists away, helping to maintain the archipelago’s calm and isolated vibe.
Oh, and if a horse runs up to you at the beach, don’t panic: They are beloved island residents.
Bom Bom Island - São Tomé & Príncipe
This island near the east coast of Africa is so small and scarcely developed — its population is, yes, 15 — that it has managed to elude overtourism.
Most of the island’s tropical forest is intact, and it boasts UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status. A vacation here earns visitors bragging rights for witnessing a unique place few outside tourists get to.
A single resort on the islet, simply called Bom Bom, is well worth booking. It offers eco-friendly luxury, allowing you to enjoy comfort while practicing responsible tourism.
Turtle Island - Fiji
Sometimes, the best way to get some privacy at the beach is to pay for it. That certainly seems to be the case in Fiji.
The unimaginably beautiful Turtle Island is an entire resort meant to provide guests with the ultimate secluded paradise, which is what makes it so popular with honeymooners and couples celebrating their anniversaries.
Only 14 couples are allowed at a time, and there’s a matching set of 14 beaches open to them. Chances are that you won’t even have to see other honeymooners during the entirety of your stay, a privilege well worth the money. (Though, yes, it is a lot of money; rates start at over $2,000 a night.)
Kelebekler Vadisi - Turkey
Kelebekler Vadisi, or Butterfly Valley, can only be reached by boat, which is bad news for the masses but good news for those seeking some quiet time with nature.
The valley is home to more than 100 species of butterflies, which visitors can see flapping about while enjoying the pristine beach.
Take in the feeling of being disconnected as you gaze at the imposing rocky hills that mark the valley. If you want to stay the night, make sure you plan your trip between March and November, and announce your intentions to the Butterfly Valley Management. You’ll be competing for one of just 500 spots, so planning ahead is worthwhile.
Guvano Beach - Italy
If you like your beaches like you like your treasures — challenging yet rewarding to find — put Guvano Beach on your wishlist right now.
Located in the overly popular coastal area of Cinque Terre, this beach is still quite hidden by the gorge that surrounds it. Getting there is an adventure in itself that used to include crossing an abandoned tunnel. Sadly for the fearless traveler, that tunnel is now closed, but the beach can still be accessed through an equally exciting foot trail from the towns of Vernazza or Corniglia.
The trail is not well kept, so this isn't for the faint of heart and caution is advised. But if you do make it there, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Cinque Terre, and absolute tranquility.
Ned’s Beach - Lord Howe Island, Australia
Locals call Lord Howe Island “The Last Paradise.” Only accessible via a relatively expensive flight or sailing boat, and with little to no cell-phone reception, the island remains mostly crowd-free.
Every beach on this island featuring volcanic mountains covered in forest has its own distinct charm. But Ned’s Beach may be the most alluring of all.
With unassuming beauty, this beach offers you life's simple pleasures in abundance (and really, aren’t these the best kind?). Lay on the sand, enjoy a picnic or walk on the shore. Once you’re ready for the Tasman Sea, make sure you grab your snorkeling gear to catch a glimpse of the diverse and abundant sea life that will surround you.
Khlong Rahan - Ko Kut, Thailand
Thailand became an unfortunate poster child for overtourism when it had to close its incredibly popular Maya Beach. But this doesn’t mean you necessarily have to look elsewhere for a secluded tropical getaway.
There are still beaches in the country promising the mythical magic seasoned backpackers love to rave about. Khlong Rahan is such a beach.
You won’t find crowds of drunk backpackers seeking full moon parties here. In fact, you won’t find much at all: just a small shack, the dazzling sea and a gorgeous stretch of white sand few ever make it to.
Monsul - Cabo de Gata-Nijar National Park, Spain
If the porous rock formations of Monsul Beach look familiar, that’s because they were prominently featured in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” Luckily, though, the beach hasn’t let its star status get to its head.
Perhaps because it competes with an entire coast of breathtaking and famous beaches — or because the movie came out before social media started to drive millions to film locations — Monsol has managed to maintain a laid-back vibe while thwarting massive crowds.
Giant craters flanking the sides of rocky mountains leave visitors in awe; the formations look like they belong to another planet. To complete the vision, the water is crystal clear and shallow, making this the perfect spot for a stress-free beach vacation with the family.
Haulover Beach - Miami, USA
Want to ditch all the sunburnt tourists that overrun Miami Beach? Try heading to Haulover Beach Park instead.
This state park is located a mere 30 minutes north of South Beach, and is where locals go to enjoy the sea without navigating throngs of people. There is a small nude section for those who want to literally strip away their worries, though most of the park is geared toward swimsuit-adorned patrons.
With a historic lighthouse and a dog park, there is something for everyone in the family here, including furry friends.
Kumimi Beach - Molokai, Hawaii, USA
Hawaii is as almost as famous for mega-resorts as it is for idyllic beaches. Fortunately, quiet Molokai has long resisted the overtourism its sister islands have succumbed to.
Here, no building is taller than a coconut tree, and there’s more spirit of Aloha than there are tourists. Take advantage of this at Kumimi Beach, also known as Murphy’s Beach or 20-Mile Beach. Boasting some of the clearest water on the island, this is one of the best spots in Hawaii for swimming and snorkeling. Watch out for live sponges, octopus and, of course, fantastically colorful schools of fish.
Playa Manzanillo - Providencia, Colombia
When Colombians want to escape without leaving the country, they head to San Andres and Providencia.
These blissful Caribbean islands have their own identity; where San Andres is developed and touristy, Providencia is a haven for peace and quiet.
The island only allows residents to build on the island and every single business is locally owned; big-box franchises that plague the world are nowhere to be found. You won’t see any buildings higher than two stories, and you’ll get to know the entire island by going around its single circular road.
Though any beach will give you access to the awe-inspiring sea of seven colors, Playa Manzanillo is the most beloved among islanders.
Geommeolle Beach - Udo, South Korea
Jeju Island, the so-called Hawaii of Korea, attracts visitors from all over the world with its volcanic beauty. Only some of these visitors, though, make it to the tiny neighboring island of Udo, accessible via ferry from Jeju.
Here, travelers rent bikes or scooters to explore the entire island, which measures just 2.4 square miles. Stopping to eat peanut butter ice cream is a must, as is laying out a towel on a quiet beach. There are many to choose from that are perfect for swimming and enjoying clear water, but the most secluded and unique is Geommeolle.
Protected by dramatic cliffs, you’ll find black sand, a cave and, if you’re lucky, haenyeo, the famous Jeju women divers.
Les Sables Roses - Rangiroa, French Polynesia
Literally translating to “The Pink Sands,” this beach’s name says it all.
It is located in Rangiroa, the second largest atoll in the world, and draws the curious with its uniquely colored sand that is truly something to behold. Enjoy the aesthetically pleasing contrast between the sand and the light blue water, a rare sight you’ll only find in a handful of places on Earth.
What’s best, you won’t have to crop your amazing pictures to get other people taking selfies out of your shot, or fight for a sunbathing spot. Many pink beaches, like Horseshoe Bay Beach in Bermuda and Elafonissi in Greece, are wildly popular. But this one remains a hidden gem, meaning you’ll have this miracle of nature mostly to yourself.
Carlos Rosario - Culebra, Puerto Rico
Culebra island is not the secret it once was, and its Flamenco Beach is too popular for its own good now. But there are still quiet spots to be found for those willing to walk the extra mile — literally.
Within walking distance of Flamenco Beach is the still-tranquil Carlos Rosario Beach, which you can easily find completely empty on a weekday. Like most of the island, this beach was once used as a weapons-testing facility by the U.S. government. It has since traded its military uniform for the white flag of beach life.
No facilities or vendors are available, but that doesn’t seem to bother those seeking soft sand and proximity to one of Puerto Rico’s most beautiful reefs.
Anse Intendance - Mahe, Seychelles
Lush jungle frames the turquoise waters of this wild beach, located on the Seychelles’ largest island. It retains the beauty of beaches like Anse Source d’Argent, one of the most photographed in the world, but has not yet suffered from a bout of too much popularity.
On the contrary, it is not uncommon to arrive only to realize you’re the only one here. The water is quite deep at some points and the waves can be harsh, so it’s not perfect for families, but it calls surfers and intrepid travelers looking for a plot of golden sand to take in the sun.
Praia Formosa - Azores Islands, Portugal
On Portugal’s Atlantic islands, waves crashing against dramatic cliffs create a scene that’s somehow calmingly chaotic. Though the natural beauty of the Azores is undeniable, you won’t find many white-sand beaches; if this happens to be your preference, Praia Formosa on the island of Santa Maria is the place for you.
The beach’s distinctive sand makes it a favorite, and it's home to the Sao Joao Baptista Fort ruins, which add a touch of history to the stunning scene.
What’s best, the islands’ strict preservation policies keep the invasion of tourists at bay. Strict laws cap the number of available tourist beds, limit daily flights and protect a large percentage of the total land area from development. The result? A gorgeous beach that’s free of crowds and full of nature.
Nacpan Beach - Palawan Island, Philippines
Considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the Philippines, Nacpan Beach is not exactly a secret. It is, however, enough out of the way to protect it from waves of visitors.
To get here, you either have to pay for a tour, or rent a bike or scooter and drive there. A little bit of effort goes a long way, as you get to experience a yet-undeveloped paradise where you can eat fresh seafood and bask in the sun without interruptions.
Most people make it a day trip from the nearby town of El Nido, but there are a few overnight options for those who want to stay a bit longer.
La Toc - Saint Lucia
Located in Castries, the capital of Saint Lucia, you wouldn’t expect a beach this beautiful to still be secluded. Yet somehow La Toc has managed to keep its chill Caribbean spirit through the years.
Expect postcard-perfect shores, impossibly blue water, soft sand and magnificent views of the mountains. After a day of swimming, snorkeling and hiking around the island, reward yourself by taking in a seriously breathtaking sunset.
To get here, you’ll have to pass through the Sandals Regency Resort, as there is no other access. Perhaps this is why the stunning beach has remained hidden from unknowing tourists for so long.
Holbox Island - Mexico
While everyone heads to the Riviera Maya for their beach vacation, those in the know who want to escape the party atmosphere head to the other side of the Yucatan Peninsula.
With equally beautiful, yet still preserved beaches, Holbox Island is perfect for getting away from spring breakers. Nature lovers will feel especially gratified, as the island is a sanctuary for flamingos and pelicans, and an ideal spot for watching whale sharks and sea turtles.
Sand covers most of the roads and cars are an uncommon sight, much to the delight of the wildlife, the locals and the peace-seeking tourists.