South Beach, Bondi, Myrtle, Copacabana: World-famous beaches that have become a household name are revered for good reason – but they’re sure to pack in the crowds, too.
If you want a jaw-dropping shoreline without the sunburned tourists and splashing masses, head for one of these lesser-known gems that are just as dazzling – even if you’ve never heard of them.
Playa Negra: Vieques, Puerto Rico
The idyllic beaches of San Juan are enough of a getaway for most people, but the more remote beaches on the smaller islands off Puerto Rico are well worth the trip. Vieques, known for calm snorkeling coves and the enchanting wild horses that roam the island, is also home to a hidden black sand beach, Playa Negra. The soft, dark sand makes this beach as nice a spot for horseback riding as it is for lounging in the sun.
Where to stay: El Blok Hotel is one of Vieques’ few waterfront hotels, and just a five-minute taxi ride from Playa Negra.
Navagio Beach: Zakynthos, Greece
You’ve probably seen this little-known but much-photographed beach before, but might not know its name. With its turquoise water, sweeping white cliffs and a rusted-over shipwreck plopped on the sand, Navagio (meaning shipwreck) Beach is a popular spot for visitors to the Greek Isles. But, it’s difficult to reach: A lookout point above it is more accessible than the cove itself, which you’ll need to sail into if you want to swim or peer into the shipwreck.
Where to stay: Since you’ll need to sail there in order to reach it, Navagio Beach is isolated from most Zakynthos hotels. But Zakynthos Town, where most visitors arrive, has plenty to choose from, including the affordable Hotel Strada Marina, for waterfront views and a central location.
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