The 15 best beaches to visit this winter

Cayo Largo del Sur, Isla de la Juventud

Cuba

“Cuba is surrounded by beautiful beaches,” says Plácido Sánchez Vega of Mega Yacht Services. And, he continues, the most interesting ones for people traveling via yacht are on the easternmost tip of Archipelago de los Canarreos, on Cayo Largo del Sur (Cayo Largo), on Cuba’s south coast.

This 23.3-square-kilometre mangrove-covered island’s white-sand beaches stretch for almost 26 kilometres along its south coast. Wander its eastern beaches to spot iguanas. For swimming, Vega recommends two of the western ones: Playa Paraiso, which is clothing optional, and busier Playa Sirena.

Following a stroll and dip, tender to nearby Cayo Largo coral reef for snorkeling or diving or, suggests Vega, embark on a sportfishing or fly-fishing excursion.

Picture courtesy of Michael Green/Unsplash.com

best beaches to visit this winter

Whitsunday Island, Australia

At 170.5 square kilometres, uninhabited Whitsunday Island can claim a couple of brag-worthy superlatives. It’s the largest island in the 70-plus Whitsunday group…and its southeastern side is home to Australia’s most dazzling stretch of sand: 6.4 kilometre long Whitehaven Beach.

Solway Passage to the south offers the most dramatic approach: Whitehaven’s white silica sands make a spectacular appearance, sandwiched between the Coral Sea’s seductive turquoise perimeter and the island’s forested rise.

With no restaurants or beach bars and plenty of space for avoiding day-trippers, Whitehaven is perfect for an indulgent picnic followed by a long walk. Stroll barefoot along its quartz-rich length or hike the one-and-a-half-mile-return Solway circuit, which starts on the beach and winds up to a natural rock platform with views over the passage and surrounding islands.

If you want to swim, though, you must don a full-body Lycra stinger suit between October and May, the riskiest season for tropical stingers.

Wayag Islands

Raja Ampat, Indonesia

If harmless reef sharks sound like a perfect beach addition to your days spent in the Raja Ampat Archipelago on a luxury yacht, head for the Wayag Islands in the northernmost section of 1,500-island Raja Ampat, off Indonesia’s West Papua province, particularly the ranger station beach in Wayag’s northeast. This white-sand beach and its clear waters offer something for the whole family, says Mark Robba, owner of traditional Indonesian luxury yacht Dunia Baru. “You can snorkel off the beach or dock, see schools of fish, giant clams, sharks. It’s the one place we always have to go when we visit Wayag.”

Courtney Robba, Dunia Baru’s operations manager, agrees, also noting another memorable Wayag beach: the slender “secret beach” in the northern reaches of Wayag’s lagoon, invisible at high tide and only accessible at mid-tide, which offers an amazing drift snorkel.

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock.com / Ihamarch

Magens Bay, St. Thomas

US Virgin Islands

If you’re seeking a Caribbean beach that's one of the best toy-friendly destinations, consider Magens Bay, a large, calm anchorage in St. Thomas’ north. Surrounded by land on three sides, it’s quite sheltered, and, as it isn’t part of national park waters, it’s an ideal place for exercising Jet Skis, waterskis, wakeboards and Seabobs.

Afterwards, tender or paddle toward the small stretch of white sand before you for some land-based chill time — or, if you’re still craving movement, tackle the nature trail, which leads up to a viewpoint over the bay. Get a panoramic view of beautiful St. Thomas from this famous landmark 640 metres above sea level, the island’s highest point.

Picture courtesy of Unsplash.com

Pinney's Beach

Nevis

Five kilometre long Pinney’s Beach, just north of capital Charlestown, is directly west of 985 metre Nevis Peak. “On a clear day, you can see the peak [while] approaching Pinney’s Beach,” says Merry Persichetti of B&B Yacht Charters. “It’s breathtaking. Once there, find a secluded area to enjoy to yourself or join the fun at Sunshine’s Beach Bar and Grill [on the beach’s southern end],” she suggests. Daring guests should try the Killer Bee, Sunshine’s signature cocktail, which, according to the bar’s website, is a mix of “some rum, then some passion fruit juice, then some more rum.”

Picture courtesy of iStock.com / Tillsonburg

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