Best Secret Beaches on Earth

These beach hideaways are understated, unexpected, and—at least for now—under the radar.

Alagoas, Brazil

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Brazil may be blessed with more than 4,600 miles of coastline—but finding untouched sands is harder than it seems. Yet a few rustic beach towns in the northeastern state of Alagoas remain relatively unknown. Once considered a backwater and long overshadowed by Bahia to the south, this small, laid-back region is finally on the map. In Barra de São Miguel, Kenoa—Exclusive Beach Spa & Resort (011-55-82-3272-1285; doubles from $617) is a high-design retreat that blends seamlessly into the landscape. Portuguese owner Pedro Marques brought his eco-conscious vision to life by enlisting the help of local architect Osvaldo Tenório. Rooms are adorned with contemporary art; faucets are refashioned from old iron pipes; and recycled railway trestles are used as coffee tables. You may just want to gaze at the turquoise sea from your villa’s floor-to-ceiling windows, but there’s plenty to keep you busy, from sampling Portuguese cataplanas (rich seafood stews served in traditional copper pots) at the hotel’s restaurant to visiting the nearby oyster-farming community of Vila Palateia, where you can try bivalves plucked straight from the mangrove lagoon. Seventy miles to the north, the white-sand beaches around São Miguel dos Milagres are just as secluded and are dotted with crystalline tide pools. A handful of forward-thinking pousada owners invested here over the past decade—and sophisticated travelers are finally taking notice. At the stylish Pousada do Toque (doubles from $375), imbuia-wood chairs from Brazilian Modernist Sergio Rodrigues and daybeds by Carlos Motta help set the scene in the spacious lounge, while the 17 bungalows have bathrooms with Japanese-style tubs looking out onto private gardens. In nearby Porto de Pedras, the light-filled Pousada Patacho (doubles from $190) has five intimate, white-washed rooms surrounded by towering coconut palms and vine-draped terraces.

Kevin Raub

Best Secret Beaches on Earth

Alagoas, Brazil

Brazil may be blessed with more than 4,600 miles of coastline—but finding untouched sands is harder than it seems. Yet a few rustic beach towns in the northeastern state of Alagoas remain relatively unknown. Once considered a backwater and long overshadowed by Bahia to the south, this small, laid-back region is finally on the map. In Barra de São Miguel, Kenoa—Exclusive Beach Spa & Resort (011-55-82-3272-1285; doubles from $617) is a high-design retreat that blends seamlessly into the landscape. Portuguese owner Pedro Marques brought his eco-conscious vision to life by enlisting the help of local architect Osvaldo Tenório. Rooms are adorned with contemporary art; faucets are refashioned from old iron pipes; and recycled railway trestles are used as coffee tables. You may just want to gaze at the turquoise sea from your villa’s floor-to-ceiling windows, but there’s plenty to keep you busy, from sampling Portuguese cataplanas (rich seafood stews served in traditional copper pots) at the hotel’s restaurant to visiting the nearby oyster-farming community of Vila Palateia, where you can try bivalves plucked straight from the mangrove lagoon. Seventy miles to the north, the white-sand beaches around São Miguel dos Milagres are just as secluded and are dotted with crystalline tide pools. A handful of forward-thinking pousada owners invested here over the past decade—and sophisticated travelers are finally taking notice. At the stylish Pousada do Toque (doubles from $375), imbuia-wood chairs from Brazilian Modernist Sergio Rodrigues and daybeds by Carlos Motta help set the scene in the spacious lounge, while the 17 bungalows have bathrooms with Japanese-style tubs looking out onto private gardens. In nearby Porto de Pedras, the light-filled Pousada Patacho (doubles from $190) has five intimate, white-washed rooms surrounded by towering coconut palms and vine-draped terraces.

Kevin Raub

Dave Lauridsen
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