Best Secret Beaches on Earth

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

Lord Howe Island, Australia

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A close-kept secret among Sydney cognoscenti, this tiny Pacific Ocean island—where tourists are capped at 400, streetlights are a rarity, and most people get around on bicycles—is an easy two-hour flight from the city. Born from a volcanic eruption 7 million years ago, the verdant UNESCO World Heritage site is home to brooding basalt-stack mountains that plunge directly into the sea; guide Jack Shick leads challenging climbs up the 2,870-foot Mount Gower for jaw-dropping views. Down below, snorkelers have the run of a long and vibrant coral-reef lagoon. At Ned’s Beach, you can hand-feed kingfish—the Lord Howe specialty—while at Old Settlement Beach, turtles are known to laze on the sand. Book a room at the chic, nine-room Capella Lodge (doubles from $1050, all-inclusive), which sits atop Lover’s Bay. Owned by James and Hayley Baillie, whose other property is Kangaroo Island’s celebrated Southern Ocean Lodge, it’s known for its spa. For a room with a bit of history, check in to the low-key Pinetrees Lodge (011-61-2-9262-6585; doubles from $710, all-inclusive), which has been run by the same family since 1848.

Sue Gough Henly

Best Secret Beaches on Earth

Lord Howe Island, Australia

A close-kept secret among Sydney cognoscenti, this tiny Pacific Ocean island—where tourists are capped at 400, streetlights are a rarity, and most people get around on bicycles—is an easy two-hour flight from the city. Born from a volcanic eruption 7 million years ago, the verdant UNESCO World Heritage site is home to brooding basalt-stack mountains that plunge directly into the sea; guide Jack Shick leads challenging climbs up the 2,870-foot Mount Gower for jaw-dropping views. Down below, snorkelers have the run of a long and vibrant coral-reef lagoon. At Ned’s Beach, you can hand-feed kingfish—the Lord Howe specialty—while at Old Settlement Beach, turtles are known to laze on the sand. Book a room at the chic, nine-room Capella Lodge (doubles from $1050, all-inclusive), which sits atop Lover’s Bay. Owned by James and Hayley Baillie, whose other property is Kangaroo Island’s celebrated Southern Ocean Lodge, it’s known for its spa. For a room with a bit of history, check in to the low-key Pinetrees Lodge (011-61-2-9262-6585; doubles from $710, all-inclusive), which has been run by the same family since 1848.

Sue Gough Henly

Whitworth Images / Getty
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