Switch off the phone, leave the laptop behind and savor your downtime on these extraordinary beaches in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

If you’re dreaming of carefree days with warm breezes and the scent of salt and pine in the air — then the coast is calling. Switch off the phone, leave the laptop behind and savor your downtime on these extraordinary beaches in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Ölüdeniz Blue Lagoon, Türkiye

The fragrance of tamarisk mixed with myrtle and pine tumbles down from the mountainside to the narrow strip of sloping, golden sand of the Blue Lagoon that’s fringed by the indigo waters of Türkiye's Mediterranean coast. Located in the Ölüdeniz-Kidrak Nature Reserve, this beach should serve as inspiration for your most postcard-perfect coastal dreams.

Overhead, look for the bright colors of paragliders sailing across the sky from the mountainside, which is accessible by cable car. Ölüdeniz Town, a lively sprawl that has developed beyond the lagoon, contrasts with the glorious beach setting.

Elafonisi Beach, Crete

Pink sands and white-crested sapphire of Greece's Elafonissi Beach

Pink sands and white-crested sapphire waves create an incomparable Instagram setting on this peninsula on the most westerly shores of Crete. The beach is a natural tapestry of inlets, bays and rivers that meet before flowing into the Mediterranean Sea.

Essentially, the peninsula splits in two. One side is a lagoon with gin-clear water, and the other side has myriad secret coves and shallow warm pools. Families tend to stay to the east, while naturists venture farther to the west of the peninsula.

Notre Dame Beach; Porquerolles, South of France

The undiluted scent of eucalyptus and pine lingers in the air while the white sails of schooners billow in the wind on this island beach, not far from Hyères, on France’s Mediterranean coast.

The forest caresses the slender, crescent-shaped shoreline as waves lap gently onto the white sand, luring visitors to dive into the water. It’s a popular place in-season — but thanks to development restrictions, you won’t see a line of garish restaurants or bars to interrupt these idyllic views.

Dahab Beach, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula

Lying on the eastern coast of the Sinai Peninsula, Dahab Lagoon

Translated into English, “Dahab” means “gold,” which captures the shimmering setting of this lush lagoon with its rugged sandstone backdrop that drifts off for miles into the desert.

Once a Bedouin outpost, Dahab is now a bohemian oasis that appears to have eschewed overdevelopment in favor of low-rise, whitewashed, vernacular buildings. Life here is centered around the area’s epic windsurfing and scuba diving locations among the coral, as well as the vibrant sea life in the translucent waters.

Île aux Cerfs Beach, Mauritius

Île aux Cerfs Beach at the east coast of Mauritius

The beach on Île aux Cerfs, a dreamy island just a 15-minute boat ride from Pointe Maurice on the eastern edge of Mauritius, is peppered with palm trees and coves and fringed with the glorious crystal-clear water of the Indian Ocean.

The center of the island is a golf course — but beach aficionados likely won’t forsake the call of the beach’s powder-soft sandy lagoon for the fairway. Visitors can venture into the water or swing on a hammock and while away the afternoon with a cocktail for company.

S’Amarador Beach; Mallorca, Spain

Crystal blue turquoise water S’Amarador Beach at Mallorca, Spain

One of just two beaches in Spain’s Cala Mondragó Natural Park, this fine, bone-white-grained coastline gently slopes into the oh, so blue water. It’s fringed by tufty dunes with thistle and seagrass — and is the quintessentially idyllic, rose-tinted shore from everyone’s childhood.

Reached only by foot, S’Amarador’s discrete location is veiled behind rocky coves and a pine forest — and appeals to a decidedly local cohort.

La Pelosa Beach; Sardinia, Italy

Beyond the moonscape surface that surrounds La Pelosa’s otherworldly perfection is its sugar-white sand and turquoise waters that look out to a small island with a round limestone Aragonese watchtower.

In July and August, the beach is busy with bathers stretched out on straw mats, soaking in the sun’s brilliant rays. Off-season, the sky comes alive with color as kites billow in the mistral, a northwesterly breeze that crosses the island from France.

Praia da Marinha; Algarve, Portugal

Praia da Marinha’s double arches harbor one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe

Sculpted by time and weather, Praia da Marinha’s double arches harbor one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. The orange karst stacks frame a stunning backdrop of cobalt sea, featured in a million Instagram posts.

One of the best ways to arrive is by hiking the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail from Carvoeiro, which has commanding views of Portugal’s southern coastline. Before you descend from the cliffs for a swim in the calm water below, catch a glimpse of the arches — at a certain angle they form the shape of a heart.

Nungwi, Zanzibar

For a flavor of Africa’s Spice Islands — an archipelago off Tanzania’s east coast — head for Zanzibar’s Nungwi Beach with its warm tropical waters and endless miles of shoreline. Just 35 miles (56 kilometers) from the UNESCO-designated Stone Town in the island’s capital, Nungwi is the place to experience old and modern Zanzibar together.

Swahili architecture and contemporary hotels sit side by side, while locally handcrafted dhows sail against skies of orange, crimson and azure. Snorkel among the endless array of fish and coral reefs if time permits.

Published: April 29, 2022

Last Updated: November 09, 2022

Article Tags:  Crete , Egypt , France , Mallorca , Mauritius , Portugal , Sardinia , Türkiye , Zanzibar

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