World's Best Secret Beaches

Where to avoid the people and the noise and find serenity
A scene from Salema, Portugal.   (©F H Mira)

(Travel + Leisure) – Even for die-hard swimmers, surfers, and sunbathers, sometimes a day at the beach is anything but, thanks to way, way too many people. The good news is that there are still undiscovered beaches out there. Travel + Leisure went scouting for such secret beaches. Here are its best finds:

  • Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico: This artist colony is way cooler in both temperature and temperament than the Margaritaville of Cabo San Lucas, an hour to the south. Pacific breezes stir up rough and tumbling waves that have made this kicked-back community a surfer’s haven.

  • Puako, Big Island, Hawaii: Tucked between the Kona airport and the plush resorts on the Big Island’s Kohala coast, Puako is a relaxed little residential enclave with one main road, a general store, and lovely, affordable vacation rentals.
  • Ibo Island, Mozambique: The 32 coral islands of the Quirimbas Archipelago—which have been proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage site—beckon with mangrove forests and sandbank beaches. Sparkling turquoise waters filled with marine life are superb for shipwreck snorkeling and deep-sea diving.
  • Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam: The largest island in the Gulf of Thailand, Phu Quoc is nearer to Cambodia than mainland Vietnam. This still underdeveloped tourist destination of less than 100,000 residents is known for uncluttered beaches and the country’s best fish sauce—a key Vietnamese ingredient.
  • Salema, Portugal: Located three hours south of Lisbon, this small fishing village is known for its gentle Atlantic shore break on a wide beach between two steep cliffs. Salema remains admirably authentic, with one main street, white stucco houses, an outdoor market, and just a dozen places to eat and drink.
Check out other secret beaches that made the cut—including one where tourists are capped at 400.

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