There’s something magical about the quaint seaside towns of afar that are hard to rival when you’re searching for a relaxing vacation. While there are countless different beach towns around the world, they all seem to have some things in common. Time slips by more slowly, the food is always fresher, and the friendly locals add a layer of charm to these already appealing destinations.
Whether you’re searching for your next seaside vacation, a beach with big waves to surf, or a place to lay down permanent roots, keep reading to discover the 30 best beach towns in the world.
Table of Contents
- 1. St. George’s – Bermuda
- 2. Port Antonio – Jamaica
- 3. Rio de Janeiro – Brazil
- 4. Nice – France
- 5. Bocas del Toro – Panamá
- 6. Kotor – Montenegro
- 7. Todos Santos – Baja, Mexico
- 8. Lagos – Portugal
- 9. Santa Monica – California, USA
- 10. Sorrento – Italy
- 11. Tamarindo – Costa Rica
- 12. Sidi Bou Said – Tunisia
- 13. Alicante – Spain
- 14. Sydney – Australia
- 15. Placencia – Belize
- 16. Paia – Maui, Hawaii, USA
- 17. Cape Town – South Africa
- 18. San Juan del Sur – Nicaragua
- 19. Cannon Beach – Oregon, USA
- 20. Dubrovnik – Croatia
- 21. Santa Marta – Colombia
- 22. Ericeira – Portugal
- 23. Pedasi – Panama
- 24. Collioure – France
- 24. Cadaques, Spain
- 26. Sayulita – Mexico
- 27. Nosara – Costa Rica
- 28. Miami Beach – Florida, USA
- 29. Salinas – Ecuador
- 30. Caye Caulker – Belize
1. St. George’s – Bermuda
If it isn’t already, Bermuda should be at the top of your bucket list if you’re interested in hunting down the best beach towns in the world. St. George’s is especially fantastic, and if you make this former capital city your home base while in Bermuda, you’ll get to enjoy a healthy dose of history alongside your beach vacation.
St. George’s is Bermuda’s former capital city and a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you meander the cobblestoned streets and take in views of the ancient colonial architecture.
The city’s natural offerings are just as attractive as the man-made ones. Head to the East End and explore the old fortress and colorful architecture before heading to the stunning Tobacco Bay for the best of both worlds. Calm seas and soft white sand await you at this much-loved beach, and there’s no better place to soak up some sun or dip your toes in the water while in St. George’s.
2. Port Antonio – Jamaica
If you’re searching for a beach town that’s a little more off the beaten path, make your way to Port Antonio, Jamaica. This small coastal city is a far cry from the crowded shores of Montego and Negril, and those who make the two-hour trek from Kingston will find themselves in what appears to be heaven on earth.
Port Antonio boasts beautiful turquoise water, soft white sand beaches, and lush vegetation. The real draw here is that tourists are few and far between, and the city is still authentically Jamaican. So soak up the sun on the stunning beach at Frenchman’s Cove, try some jerk chicken, or stick around for the evening to experience a reggae party.
3. Rio de Janeiro – Brazil
Perhaps the most famous beach town in the world is the sultry Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro. Although it is far from a hidden secret, there’s a reason that this beach city is so popular amongst tourists and locals alike.
This coastal gem boasts over 25 miles of shoreline for sunbathing (the locals do it naked), swimming, surfing, and paddleboarding. The coast is also a popular place for jogging, playing beach volleyball, and people watching with a refreshing caipirinha in hand.
During the summer, the famous shores of Copacabana Beach are full to the brim. With stunning views of Sugarloaf Mountain in the distance and an overall ambiance that takes fun in the sun to the next level, it’s no surprise that this stretch of sand is so popular.
For a more laid-back beach experience in Rio de Janeiro, head to the lesser-known Leblon Beach. This is where most of the locals prefer to hang out, and you’ll find that relaxing is easier here than on the party-centric shores of Copacabana.
4. Nice – France
Another one of the most famous beach towns in the world can be found along the French Riviera. Nice is the perfect place to lay down your beach towel on a sunny afternoon, and you’ll find over 30 different beaches to choose from.
There are both public and private beaches, some sandy, some pebbly, and some padded. If you choose to go private over public, you can expect to pay a daily fee, which includes conveniences like sunbeds and restroom access.
While all of Nice’s beaches are phenomenal, some of the best of the best include Castel Plage, Opera Plage, Plage Beau Rivage, Blue Beach, and Neptune Plage.
5. Bocas del Toro – Panamá
Bocas del Toro is one of the Caribbean’s best-kept secrets, and it’s also one of the best beach towns in the world. Far off the well-beaten path, this hidden oasis has yet to become ensnared by crowds of tourists that often plague beachside towns.
This is in part due to the fact that this small series of islands is not exactly easy to reach – you’ll need to take a flight from Panama City. However, those who make the journey will be rewarded with a small piece of paradise, and the best part is the islands never get overly crowded.
Bocas Town on the island of Colon is a great starting point. This is the commercial hub and the most touristy that the islands get. That being said, there are plenty of opportunities for relaxing. Head to one of the bars on stilts over the crystal clear waters of the Gulf and enjoy a cerveza as you watch the locals dance the samba.
For some of the best snorkeling in the world, head to Zapatilla. For the best surfing, make your way to Carenero. Best place for beach bums to chill out and soak up some sun? Without a doubt, the mangrove-lined shores of Red Frog Beach.
6. Kotor – Montenegro
The ancient city of Kotor is more reminiscent of a dream than an actual place you can visit. Steep mountains rise up all around the bay, giving you incredible vistas no matter where you are in town.
Combine these epic views with cheap (but delicious) beer, narrow streets lined with ancient Venetian architecture, and the beautiful blue waters of the Adirondack Sea, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for one of the best beaches towns in the world.
Some of the best beaches in Kotor include Jaz Beach, Mogren Beach, Sveti Stefan, Kamenovo, Slovenska, and Perazica Do.
7. Todos Santos – Baja, Mexico
Surfers searching for the best beach towns in the world should make a beeline for Todos Santos, located along the pacific coast of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula.
Todos Santos is a far cry from the resort-ridden shores of the country’s Gulf coast, and beach bums usually prefer the turquoise blue waters of the Yucatan Peninsula to the choppy shores of the Pacific.
But surfers can rejoice in the fact that the same water that keeps swimmers away from the shores of Todos Santos has also kept out hoteliers. As a result, the hidden oasis offers up some of the most surfable waves in the country for both beginners and seasoned pros. If you’re just starting out, head to Los Cerritos. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, world-class waves await a few miles north at La Pastora.
The city itself gives off mega beach town charm, with a surprising array of top-notch restaurants serving up fresh catches and top-shelf margaritas. Cheers!
8. Lagos – Portugal
Located in the stunning Algarve region of Southern Portugal, Lagos is one of the best and most famous beach towns in the world. The reputation is well deserved, with beautiful expanses of sandy beaches and a tempting array of bars, cafes, and restaurants.
Summer temperatures are extremely inviting, and the beaches fill up fast during these months. Luckily you’ll have plenty to choose from, and if one is over-crowded, simply make your way along the coast until you reach the next stretch of sand. Some of the best beaches in Lagos include Praia don Ana, Praia Do Camilo, Meia Praia, Praia do Porto de Mós, and Praia da Batata.
9. Santa Monica – California, USA
Located along the iconic Pacific Coast Highway, the city of Santa Monica is one of the best beach towns in the world. Santa Monica is quintessentially Californian, with towering palm trees lining the beach, mountains proudly standing sentinel in the background, and plenty of mouth-watering restaurants waiting just behind the shoreline.
Santa Monica features about three and a half miles of shoreline, and the beach has been used countless times in Hollywood films – so don’t be shocked if it looks oddly familiar. Popular beach day activities here include swimming, sandcastle building, beach volleyball, and simply soaking up the sun.
10. Sorrento – Italy
Sorrento is located in southwestern Italy overlooking the splendid Bay of Naples on the Sorrentine Peninsula. This coastal gem is one of the best beach towns in the world and has been enticing tourists to its shores since the rule of imperial Rome.
The city is by no means a metropolis, but it is big enough to have a ton of great offerings for visitors. There are countless restaurants serving up fresh seafood and buffalo mozzarella, and the famous limoncello liquor flows abundantly from both cafes and artisan shops around the city.
Sunbathing from the wooden docks down by the shore is a popular way to soak up some sun while in Sorrento, though you will also find a few stretches of public beach along the coast as well. Check out Marina Piccola Beach for a taste of both.
Sorrento is known as the gateway of the Amalfi Coast, and if you have time, you should be sure to check out the beaches of Positano, Atrani, Ercho, and Priano. While the bus ride along the coast is a bit of a wild ride (think narrow coastal roads without no rail guards), the views alone are worth the journey.
11. Tamarindo – Costa Rica
Tamarindo is the perfect balance between luxury hotels and rugged natural beauty, making it one of the best beach towns in the world. The town is located in northwest Costa Rica along the Pacific Ocean.
The Pacific offers mighty waves perfect for surfing, but beach bums have also flocked to Tamarindo’s shores in recent years to enjoy the scenic surroundings and sandy beaches. Some of the best beaches in town include Tamarindo Beach, Playa Langosta, Playa Grande, Playa Avellanas, and Sugar Beach.
Besides the beachy offerings, Tamarindo also boasts award-winning restaurants serving up international cuisine, an epic yet sophisticated nightlife, excellent fishing opportunities, and a great selection of nearby golf courses.
12. Sidi Bou Said – Tunisia
Famous for its incredible cultural and historical offerings, Tunisia is also a great place for beach bums to sit back and relax. Of all the charming beach towns in the country, Sidi Bout Said is one of the best, and it’s conveniently located just nine miles away from the capital city of Tunis.
Perfect for a day trip or a week-long retreat, Sidi Bou Said’s white-washed cityscape may have you feeling like you’re in Greece rather than Africa. Either way, the beautiful blue hue of the Mediterranean and the soft sandy beaches make Sidi Bou Said one of the best beach towns in the world.
13. Alicante – Spain
It’s no secret that Alicante is a favorite amongst Europeans searching for some sun, and this lovely beach town is just as popular with Spaniards when it comes to beach vacations. Located along Spain’s Southeastern Costa Blanca, Alicante boasts sunny days, warm water, and only moderate humidity.
With a population of over 330,000, Alicante also features all the modern amenities you could hope for on your beachy getaway, including both mom-and-pop shops and department stores, open-air markets and large supermarkets, and a deluge of bars, restaurants, and cafes.
You’ll likely spend most of your days here at the beach soaking up the sun from the golden sand beaches. Here are some of the best in town: Benidorm, La Granadella (located in the nearby village of Javea), San Juan de Alicante, and El Portet (located in Moraira).
14. Sydney – Australia
Sydney is a sprawling city, and while it is home to some of the best beaches in the entire world, they are sometimes overshadowed by other attractions like the Opera House, the Sydney Harbor Bridge, and the Royal Botanical Garden.
Beach bums looking for the best stretches of sand in the world should not count Sydney out. Instead, focus on the lovely beaches on offer here rather than the attractions in the city center.
Bondi Beach is perhaps the most famous beach in Sydney, and for a good reason. Spectacular scenery, soft sand, and beautiful coastal walking paths all make this beach a local favorite, though beware that it can become extremely crowded, especially in the summer months.
Other must-see beaches while in Sydney include Manly Beach, Queenscliff, Coogee Beach, and Balmoral Beach.
15. Placencia – Belize
Situated at the southern tip of the Placencia peninsula, the village of Placencia is one of the best beach towns in the world. With its wide white sand beaches, turquoise blue waters, and mountain peaks jutting out in the distance, Placencia has long since been a popular beach destination for Belizeans. Recently it has become a must-see spot with tourists as well, and there is a large population of ex-pats living along its shores.
Placencia is a quintessential Caribbean gem, though large throngs of tourists rarely overcrowd it. This makes it the perfect place to escape from everyday life, and the best part is that almost everyone in town speaks English – Belize’s official language.
As an added bonus, Placencia is also home to a lovely freshwater lagoon. So for a change of pace from the typical tropical beach day, head to the Placencia Lagoon for kayaking, wildlife watching, and epic views of the Maya mountain chain in the distance.
16. Paia – Maui, Hawaii, USA
What was once the site of a large sugar plantation is now the home of one of the best beach towns in the world. The town of Paia, located on Maui’s northern tip, has everything you could wish for in a beach town. From scenic surroundings and eclectic mom-and-pop shops to the thundering waves and beautiful beaches, Paia is not to be missed.
This small, 3-block town is usually not on the radar of tourists, and if it is, they are likely just passing through on their way to summit the nearby Haleakala volcano. But Paia is worth exploring, even if it’s just for a few nights.
While many beaches in this area are pummeled with waves that make normal beach day activities a bit of a hazard, the sandy shores of Tavares Bay on the town’s northern edge are safe for swimming, surfing, and windsurfing. The best part is that this hidden gem is rarely frequented, so you may have the whole stretch of beach all to yourself!
17. Cape Town – South Africa
South Africa’s capital city is known for many things – chiefly its history, its incredible scenery (including the legendary Table Top Mountain), and its bustling harbor. But one aspect of this thriving city that never gets enough attention is its gorgeous beaches.
Maybe it’s because there is so much to do and see in the city that tourists often forget to slow down and relax while they are in town. The locals know the magic that awaits at these sandy outcrops, and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll be sure to spend some time at the beach next time you’re in Cape Town.
While there are many to choose from, some of the best beaches in Cape Town include the Clifton Beaches, Sandy Bay, Beta Beach, Camps Bay, and Llandudno Beach.
18. San Juan del Sur – Nicaragua
San Juan del Sur is a surfer’s paradise. Located along the craggy coastline of the southwest coast of Nicaragua, San Juan del Sur is littered with coves and inlets that are perfect for catching waves.
Playa Hermosa is arguably the best beach for surfing, though you will need to travel about half an hour south – preferably with a guide. The trip is worth it, and once you arrive, you’ll find a small bar selling beer and renting out boards. There are also bathrooms and showers available.
Other popular beaches around San Juan del Sur include the much-loved Maderas Beach and the quieter Marsella Beach.
19. Cannon Beach – Oregon, USA
When you think about Oregon, you may conjure up images of lush rainforests, rolling vineyards, or even hipsters brewing up craft beer in Portland. But Oregon is also home to some of the best beach towns in the world, and Cannon Beach is one of the state’s crowning glories.
While the weather doesn’t exactly invite timeless beach activities like swimming, sunbathing, and sandcastle buildings for most of the year, the incredible surroundings make Cannon Beach worth visiting no matter the season.
The 235-foot Haystack rock is the star of the show on Cannon Beach, though the dense forests and craggy mountain peaks that surround it are also worth noting. The town of Cannon Beach is one of the most beautiful cities in Oregon, so don’t hesitate to spend some time strolling the streets or popping into the restaurants while you’re in town.
20. Dubrovnik – Croatia
While the old walled city of Dubrovnik draws both history buffs and Game of Thrones enthusiasts alike, the city’s beaches deserve the same amount of attention. Dubrovnik is one of the best beach towns in the world, and those who dare to venture outside of the old city will be pleasantly surprised.
One of the best beaches in town is Banje Beach. The small pebbles and beautiful turquoise water alone would be enough to please any beach bum, but the views of the old city and islands in the distance are really what makes this spot a 10 out of 10. Be prepared to pay for a lounge chair unless you can find a place to lay your towel on the crowded shoreline.
While Banje Beach is in a prime location, there are countless other beaches around Dubrovnik that are just as scenic. Another popular choice is Lapad Beach, a pebbly outcrop located in the scenic Lapad Bay. This beach was once a local hang-out but is increasingly becoming more and more popular with tourists.
If you’re looking for solitude during your stay in Dubrovnik, you may have to work a bit, but the options are there. You’ll find tons of hidden coves in and around the city; just be prepared to hike up and down steep rocky outcrops to get to them. Check out Sulic and Kolorina, located just south of the old city, or head further north to Beach Divovici or St. Jacob’s Beach.
No matter which beach you visit in Dubrovnik, consider investing in some water shoes as jagged rocks and sea urchins are not uncommon.
21. Santa Marta – Colombia
Skip the over-crowded shores of Barranquilla and head a few miles north to its lesser-known sister city – Santa Marta. Tucked between the turquoise Caribbean Sea and the snow-capped mountain peaks of the Sierra Nevada range sits the Colombian city of Santa Marta. It is thought to be one of South America’s oldest surviving cities, and today it has become one of the best beach towns in the entire world.
This title is especially true for those who are looking to stay active during their beach vacation. Santa Marta has plenty of adrenaline-pumping activities to keep you busy, whether it be hiking through the dense forests of the nearby Tayrona National Park or cycling the flat streets of the city itself.
While there are many to choose from, here are the best beaches in and around Santa Marta: Taganga, Santa Marta Bay, Rodadero, Playa Cristal, and Cabo San Juan.
22. Ericeira – Portugal
Located just 30 minutes outside of the capital city of Lisbon, the small fishing village of Ericeira is one of the best beach towns in the world. The town can trace its roots back to the 12-century, and you can see the history in the narrow cobblestone streets, the whitewashed walls, and the family-owned restaurants that line the main plaza.
While the town itself is bursting with charm, the main draw to Ericeira is, of course, the beaches. Praia do Sol is the place to go for sun tanning and house music, while the locals prefer Praia dos Pescadores. Ericeira is famous for its all-night beach parties, so be sure to check out the dance scene at Ribeira d’Ilhas for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
23. Pedasi – Panama
While some consider the best beach towns in the world to be places clad with sandy beaches for sunbathing, others see opportunities for kayaking, snorkeling, and deep-sea fishing much more attractive.
If this is the case for you, make a beeline for the small town of Pedasi, located in southern Panama just outside of Las Tablas. Pedasi boasts golden sand beaches surrounded by lush flora and fauna, and even if all you want to do is sit back and relax, this is a great place to do so. Those interested in more heart-pounding excursions will also have plenty of options.
Some of Pedasi’s best beaches include Playa Venao, Playa Arenal, and Playa Toro. The best part is, the town is criminally underrated, so it’s not uncommon to have the entire beach to yourself.
24. Collioure – France
Located along the lovely French Riviera, Collioure is not the ritzy retreat of millionaires seeking to park their yacht somewhere swanky. Instead, Collioure is an unpretentious oasis for locals and working-class vacationers.
With over 300 days of sunshine each year, Collioure is the perfect beach town for those just looking to relax. You’ll find five pebbly beaches to choose from, though the Plage de Port D’Avall is arguably the best.
Although it has been French for the past 350 years, Collioure is located just 15 miles from the Spanish border and boasts an architectural design that is distinctly Catalonian. Although the town has both French and Spanish influence, it is above all Mediterranean, with gorgeous beaches, beautiful weather, and tantalizing food, and wine. Enjoy!
24. Cadaques, Spain
One of southern Europe’s best hidden gems can be found in the small town of Cadaques, located in the middle of the Cap de Creus peninsula in northeastern Spain. This sleepy village was made famous by the artist Salvador Dali, who owned a home here that has since been turned into a museum.
It’s not hard to see how Cadaques captured Dali’s heart, and anyone who visits is likely to fall under the same spell. With white-washed buildings standing sentinel against the turquoise blue waters, the verdant mountainsides, and incredible views of the scenic bay, Cadaques is a no-brainer for those looking for the best beach towns in the world.
The beaches here are primarily pebbly, but don’t let that stop you from laying out a beach towel and soaking up some sun and scenic views. Some of the best beaches in Cadaques include Playa Grande, Playa es Pianc, and Es Llane y Llane Petit.
26. Sayulita – Mexico
The sleepy town of Sayulita is located just north of the bustling city center of Puerto Vallarta, but the city’s vibes couldn’t be more different. While Puerto Vallarta is a tourist magnet, Sayulita is a hidden gem that has retained a slower pace of life. This makes it one of the best beach towns in the world, so consider bypassing PV altogether and going straight to Sayulita.
Beautiful sand beaches and lush vegetation surround the calm waters of the Pacific, and while there aren’t many tourists, there is a population of lively locals and ex-pats to liven up this undeveloped town.
There are few beaches right in Sayulita, including Sayulita Beach, Playa de los Muertos, and Playa Carricitos.
27. Nosara – Costa Rica
No shirt, no shoes, no problem. This is the mentality of Nosara, an idyllic beach town located along the Pacific Ocean in northwestern Costa Rica. The town is surrounded by the 90-acre Nosara Biological Preserve, which protects the area from significant development.
This has allowed Nosara to retain a sense of natural paradise, making it one of the best beach towns in the world. Verdant mangrove forests surround the soft white-sand beach, and the town itself boasts a staggering array of restaurants to suit even the pickiest of pallets.
28. Miami Beach – Florida, USA
Come for the beaches, stay for the nightlife – or vice versa. Miami Beach is one of the most iconic beach towns in the world, and the somewhat seedy reputation is entirely deserved. So whether you’re visiting Miami for the food scene, the nightlife, or even on a business trip, do not miss your chance to hit up some of the best beaches in the country.
Miami Beach is an artificial coastal city with over nine miles of white sand beaches. South Beach is by far the most popular beach in the town, thanks to its clear waters and pristine coastline. However, if this stretch of sand is too crowded for your liking, you could also check out North Beach or the K17 Beach Club.
29. Salinas – Ecuador
Those who prefer a more luxurious beach vacation should head straight for Salinas, located in eastern Ecuador, just two hours from Guayaquil. The city is a full-fledged beach resort and is popular among locals and tourists alike.
You’ll find all the top-notch amenities here, including modern infrastructure, miles of sandy beaches, and tons of high-end restaurants, cafes, and clubs. The best part is, Salinas is extremely affordable, even for those on a budget.
While in town, be sure to spend some time at San Lorenzo and Chipipi, two of the most popular beaches in Salinas. Once you’ve had enough sun, take a walk along the lovely palm-lined Malecon promenade, located just behind the beaches.
30. Caye Caulker – Belize
Situated just off of the coast of Belize, Caye Caulker is one of the best beach towns in the world. This five-mile island is drenched in Caribbean flavor, from the stunning seascapes and colorful houses to the laid-back lifestyle and the tantalizing menus of the local restaurants.
The island is also known for its array of watersports, eco-tours, and of course, its gorgeous beaches. The favorite amongst both locals and tourists is without a doubt “The Split,” located in front of the Lazy Lizard bar and restaurant.
Caye Caulker is a bit of a hassle to get to. You’ll need to take a high-speed water taxi from Belize City (45 minutes) or Ambergris Caye (30 minutes). This keeps many tourists at bay, which is great for those who do decide to visit.