The Best Beaches in the World

BK035J Aerial view of coast of Boracay Islands in Central Philippines. Image shot 10/2009. Exact date unknown.
Photo: © Mario Babiera / Alamy

Here's the brutal truth: Americans leave literally hundreds of millions of vacation days on the table every year. That's hundreds of millions of days working that could have otherwise been used getting hopelessly sunburned on the white sands of Hawaii or jumping from cliffs into the turquoise Mediterranean.

And it's not like you needed another reason to take a beach vacation this summer, but consider this: there's now honest-to-goodness scientific research supporting a trip to the shore. A study by Michigan State has found that people living where they can see large expanses of blue water show significantly less "psychological distress."

So now that we've convinced you that a beach vacation is an imperative for a perfect summer, next comes the big question: where to go? Which are considered the best beaches in the world? The planet—which, reminder, is 70 percent covered by water—offers innumerable beautiful beaches, from famed spots like Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana to secret swathes in Crete and Thailand, and while we're not ready to declare one perfect beach for all travelers, there are several that should be added to your bucket list.

Caribbean on your mind? Check out our favorite island spots in Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic. And, of course, with tourism restrictions lifted, Cuba's best beaches are a lot more accessible to American travelers.

Or perhaps you're thinking a European beach vacation is in order. In that case, may we suggest checking out our recommendations for beaches in Spain, Italy, or Greece?

And then of course there's Asia's beaches, from the tranquil shores of India's Goa (these are our favorite spots) to the ultra-dreamy, ultra-remote beaches in Thailand.

Looking to stay stateside? Luckily, there's plenty of summer getaway potential at the beaches in California, Florida, and Hawaii. Still don't know where to go? Check out all of our beach vacation ideas, this way.

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