From paradise Caribbean shores to island coastlines closer to home, the allure of sea air, ocean views and white sands is more tantalising than ever. Here are our top-secret beaches and remote coastal spots – in Mexico, Formentera, Dominican Republic, and Herm – where travellers can escape the crowds by the sea…
Marietas Islands, Riviera Nayarit
Located in the UNESCO-recognised Marietas Islands National Park in Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit is the ultimate bucket-list destination, a hidden beach formed by volcanic activity and accessed only via swimming through a tunnel. Exclusivity is guaranteed with access to the “hidden beach” being restricted to 117 people per day, which means visitors will need a prior reservation.
The first step to access this isolated beach is to hop on a boat to Marietas Islands National Park, a 45-minute ride from Punta Mita, in the south of Riviera Nayarit. Once there, visitors are asked to jump off the boat and swim close to the entrance. As the beach is hidden underground, visitors will need to swim through a tunnel of transparent and calm waters before arriving at the beach.
Even though social distancing between humans is guaranteed, social distancing with the wildlife is not. Marietas Islands are a wildlife sanctuary, home to many endangered bird species as well as rare coral reefs. The fauna that calls this paradise home is made up of turtles, barber butterflies, humpback parrots, various species of fish, dolphins, and humpback whales. Among these species, the peculiar blue-footed booby stands out, which can only be found in two parts of the planet: Marietas Islands and the Galapagos Islands.
Shell Beach, Herm Island
Shell Beach, located on Herm Island, is a little-known gem in the British Isles and a taste of the Caribbean with fine white sand and a vibrant blue sea. So called because of the millions of tiny shells washed up by the Gulf Stream, the beach is a great spot for kayaking or paddle-boarding, while the well-stocked beach café nearby offers ice creams and all the essentials for a day in the sun. At low tide rock pools and boulder strewn islets are revealed to delight explorers of all ages.
Herm Island is a 20-minute ferry ride from Guernsey’s St Peter Port. The island’s self-catering cottages are dotted around the island to give a sense of having the island to one’s own.
Bahia De Las Aguilas / Playa Rincon / Playa El Valle, Dominican Republic
Located near the south coast border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the beaches of the Pedernales and Barahona offer a wild and remote beachscape – with practically no shops, hotels, or restaurants. Holding court, Bahia De Las Aguilas is regularly cited as the Dominican Republic’s most beautiful beach. Part of the Jaragua National Park, its 5-mile long diamond-white sands are lapped with the most crystal-clear turquoise waters and a spectacular rocky karst backdrop.
On the north coast of the Dominican Republic, the Samana peninsula is ideal for those wanting a get-away-from-it-all experience and features a number of isolated beaches. The hard to reach Playa Rincon – accessed either by an off-road drive or a boat from nearby Las Galeras – is beautiful, with uncrowded sands, clear waters, and virgin coconut forest. While around the bay and flanked by towering bluffs, and dotted with fishermen canoes, the undeveloped Playa El Valle is a great spot to get away from the crowds. Enjoy a seafood lunch on the beach, then take a long hike amid this rugged landscape and watch the fishermen bring in their catch or head out to sea.
Playa Migjorn, Formentera
The smallest of the Balearic Islands, Formentera, is one of the Mediterranean’s best kept secrets with Caribbean-style white sandy beaches and sleepy villages with white-washed houses, all surrounded by turquoise waters. Visitors to Formentera can challenge themselves to explore the entire length of 12 miles by foot or bicycle, or opt for a relaxing visit to the Ses Salines Natural Park which is home to over 200 different species of birds that stretches from south east Ibiza to the Island of Formentera.
Formentera boasts a laid-back hippie charm and exotic energy making it the ideal spot for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and recharge their batteries. One of the spots to consider when looking for peace and quiet is Playa Migjorn located on the southern coast of the island. Despite being Formentera’s longest beach, it offers many isolated corners and coves surrounded by sand dunes and pine trees. In slightly more popular areas of the long stretch of beach, there are also seaside chiringuitos (beach bars) where visitors can enjoy the breeze of the sea with a cocktail in their hand after a long walk across the island.