There's maybe nothing worse than finding a perfect spot of white sand bordered by crystalline blue waves, only to discover that 2,500 other people have also also found out about your little piece of paradise. What's the point of a good beach if you can't have it to yourself? Thankfully, there are enough coastlines on this planet for some of them to remain relatively undiscovered.
Many of these hidden gems are found on islands, further away from the bustling, crowded cities – but their distance is completely worth the trek. So forget the Ipanemas and Venice Beaches of the world, we've found six of the most secluded yet beautiful seashores to venture into instead. But shhh... keep these to yourself, of course.
Nosy Be, Madagascar
It's no secret that Madagascar is a real-life Eden, home to one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. Animal lovers flock here for the monkeys, chameleons, and lizards in the rainforests and the tropical fish in the reefs. Nosy Be is a lesser-known side of Madagascar that gives you room to explore all its natural wonders in peace, and although the southern side of the island can get a little crowded, the more north you go the less visitors you'll encounter. Make sure to stop by the Reserve Naturelle Integrale de Lokobe for their waterfalls, lagoons and vanilla plantations.
Kondoi Beach, Japan
Japan might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of tropical beaches, but the island of Taketomi is south enough to offer warmer waters – and far enough from the main island to deter crowds. Kondoi Beach is part of the Yaeyama Islands chain in Okinawa Prefecture and a must-see for its exceptionally clear waters, the strange vegetation of its jungles, and its charming animals. While the humans of Taketomi have tried to make their water buffalo a main attraction for tourists, the stray cats of the island really steal the show. Clean, well-fed, friendly and deft at posing for photoshoots, these felines add a unique touch to the pristine shores.
Polihua Beach, Hawaii
Hawaii is pretty close to being number one in the list of "most famous beach destinations in the world", but the island of Lanai is an exception to the tourism madness. A private island off the coast of Maui, this hidden gem is home to several great white-sand options – of which Polihua Beach is the best option. Accessible only via a 4-wheel drive, the two-mile stretch of waterfront is often visited by dolphins, humpback whales and green sea turtles.
Mafia Island, Tanzania
Zanzibar is the most famous of Tanzania's 50 islands, but few people know that just 160 km off of the coast of Zanzibar is another virtually unknown paradise. Despite its off-putting name, Mafia Island is anything but dark and threatening. Surrounded by a ring of coral reefs, this piece of land is heavily protected by the government due to its treasure chest of natural gems. Snorkelling is a must, as well as admiring the five rare species of butterflies that live here – in addition to admiring the lack of people on the beaches, of course.
Ningaloo Reef, Australia
Ningaloo may be famous for being the next best alternative to the Great Barrier Reef, but it's far from spoilt or overrun. Partially due to their UNESCO World Heritage status, the beautifully preserved reef in Coral Bay is so close to the beach that you can literally step off the sand and straight into the colorful corals. Many sustainably-managed tours here take visitors out by boat to dive with the friendly whale sharks and lagoon rays. Out of the water, red kangaroos, turtles and unique tropical birds abound.