Real Life. Real News. Real Voices.
Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard.
Join HuffPost Plus
THE BLOG

The World's Best (?) Beaches: Beach-Bumming on the Looney Front - Part 1

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Which is the world's best or most beautiful beach? Or the Top Ten best or most beautiful beaches? Or the Top 25? Or the Top 50?

The fact that there are so many differing lists, from Condé Nast Traveler to Rough Guides to TripAdvisor to The Guardian to Thrillist, some of which don't cross-check even once, speaks volumes on the futility of trying to establish such a 'world order.'

2016-05-12-1463065903-1995176-Indonesia20132960.JPG
Unlisted - Waiwo on Waisai island In Indonesia's Raja Ampat archipelago

In fact one beach that proclaims itself the most beautiful in the world, Praia do Sancho in Fernando de Noronha off the northeast coast of Brazil, only figures in two of these lists, coming in at number 2 on Tripadvisor Traveller's choice behind Grace Bay on Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, and ninth on Thrillist.

Self-proclaimed and listed
2016-05-12-1463066091-6909414-Brazil2016236.JPG

2016-05-12-1463066168-2522832-Brazil2016221.JPG

2016-05-12-1463066259-5185950-Brazil2016338.JPG

Some lists have specific sub-categories such as family-friendly or city beaches, or concentrate on the quality or colour of the sand or the natural backdrop. Some also have pebbles instead of sand.

This is, of course, the age of hyper-competitiveness, the era of 'the seven top X' or '11 top Y' blogs, when everything and everyone has to be the 'best' or at least better than anyone or anything else in the neighbourhood, or category, or class. Just listen to Donald Trump!

Unlisted Praia Cacimba do Padre on Fernando de Noronha, a couple of miles or so from Praia do Sancho
2016-05-12-1463067247-1599572-Brazil2016426.JPG

2016-05-12-1463067380-1499051-Brazil2016447.JPG

Also unlisted just a few hundred yards away - Praia do Boldró
2016-05-12-1463067582-1562418-Brazil2016486.JPG

And equally unlisted nearby - Praia da Conceição
2016-05-12-1463067786-5488465-Brazil2016599.JPG

This is not to say that those figuring on these lists are not beautiful, spectacular, magnificent. They usually are. It's just that there are so many other unnamed, unsung beaches that are just as breathtaking, or equally fit the qualifications for whatever category is being used.

Competition and attempts to list get in the way of the pure, simple enjoyment of Mother Nature. Just marvel at the multifaceted cornucopia of nature's bounty - no bests, no top tens, no lists, just plain unadulterated wonderment.

More unlisted beaches

2016-05-12-1463068721-3935884-Indonesia2013089.JPG
Rakata island next to Krakatoa, west (no, not east) of Java, Indonesia

2016-05-12-1463069074-4875570-GreekMainland746.JPG
Agios Ioannis, Pelion peninsula, Greece

2016-05-12-1463069172-2189757-GreekMainland078.JPG
Skyros island, Greece

2016-05-12-1463069680-7259702-Australiaplus2279.JPG
Daintree, North Queensland, Australia

Below are other magnificent beaches encountered on the Looney Front, though it is necessarily limited, since for decades I didn't brandish a camera as I was turning myself into a Hamlet-ing nervous wreck, dithering over what was the best spot to externalize my inner Robert Capa.

Wait a mo, over there! No, from that hill over there! No, under that tree there! No, on this hummock here! No, standing on my head and doing scissor kicks while reciting 'to be or not to be' under this bramble bush...

Unlisted - from Akamaru Island looking towards Mangareva in the Gambier archipelago, French Polynesia.

2016-05-12-1463070856-4327247-AustralGambier1436.JPG
Now, shall I take it from this angle?

2016-05-12-1463070954-414018-AustralGambier1427.JPG

2016-05-12-1463071091-7374282-AustralGambier1401.JPG
No, here's better!

2016-05-12-1463071230-7126214-AustralGambier1413.JPG
No, over there!

2016-05-12-1463071399-9773445-AustralGambier1409.JPG
Aaaaaaah!

So there are clearly many magnificent beaches, both listed and unlisted, that I have printed indelibly in vivid technicolour, but only in my mental database.

In many cases the background to the beach, often soaring mountains or precipitous cliffs, is an important element of the natural beauty.

2016-05-12-1463084348-4005119-Australiaplus1440.JPG
Western Flores, Indonesia

2016-05-12-1463084745-987505-DSC09032.JPG
Piana Arone, Corsica

But by no means always. Sometimes it can be the contrast of colours, of sand, water and vegetation, sometimes a sense of remote enchantment, sometimes an inexpressible sensation of peace, beguiling rather than dramatic.

2016-05-12-1463085006-4836488-Australiaplus2105.JPG
Frangipani, Cape York, Australia

2016-05-12-1463085689-1693125-IslesofBritishIsles666.JPG
Guernsey, Channel Islands, United Kingdom

But whatever, you know beauty when you see it, without the need for lists. The random pictures below come from all those categories.

The South Pacific, with its spectacular mountain backdrops of soaring monoliths, provides many such specimens, though it only figures five times among the 150 top beaches culled collectively from five sites - Condé Nast Traveler 20 Most Beautiful Beaches; Thrillist 25 Best Beaches; RoughGuides (30) World's Best Beaches; The Guardian Travel 50 best beaches; and Tripadvisor Traveller's Top 25 Beaches.

2016-05-12-1463086225-2443691-AustralGambier355.JPG
Unlisted - Raivavae, Austral Islands, French Polynesia

2016-05-12-1463086603-3799630-AustralGambier1301.JPG
Also unlisted - Mangareva, Gambier Archipelago, French Polynesia

Of these, two figure on Condé Nast, Temae and Teavora in Moorea, listed 15, and Matira Beach on Bora Bora, listed 11, both in French Polynesia. The Guardian also lists Bora Bora as 12 in the 'best wow factor' group.

It adds Vanua Balavu in Northern Lau, Fiji, as 37, though the numbers are less indicative since this latter comes in the 'best wild and remote' group and the numbers just tumble on sequentially, while TripAdvisor lists Tumon Beach on Guam at 24.

The only one I can shout 'snap' at is Bora Bora, although I've also been to the Moorea wonders in my non-camera decades.

Listed - Bora Bora
2016-05-12-1463086814-2713292-IMG_0989.JPG

2016-05-12-1463086864-9850688-IMG_0992.JPG

But look at some of these unlisted splendours of the South Pacific, including the various Micronesian countries like the Marianas, although they lie north of the Equator.

There are scores more unlisted gems throughout the five main archipelagos of French Polynesia. Far to the south of Bora Bora lie the Austral Islands of Raivavae, Tubuai and Rurutu.

2016-05-12-1463087255-4294474-AustralGambier443.JPG
Another Raivavae beach

2016-05-12-1463087514-2083121-AustralGambier1496.JPG
Another Mangareva view

2016-05-12-1463087628-9779968-AustralGambier1730.JPG
And another

2016-05-12-1463087810-7256666-IMG_2102.JPG
Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

2016-05-12-1463087906-7005812-IMG_2404.JPG
2016-05-12-1463088082-7542030-IMG_6870.JPG

2016-05-12-1463088242-526866-IMG_7665.JPG
Funafuti, Tuvalu

2016-05-12-1463088337-1244570-IMG_7676.JPGAnd another

2016-05-12-1463088424-5471668-IMG_8711.JPG
Futuna, Wallis and Futuna

2016-05-12-1463088511-7103430-IMG_9758.JPG
Rarotonga, Cook Islands

2016-05-12-1463088616-8778128-IMG_0428.JPG
And another

2016-05-12-1463088760-5391905-IMG_0037.JPG
Aitutaki, Cook Islands

2016-05-12-1463088856-3255074-IMG_0333.JPG
And another

2016-05-12-1463088944-7752540-IMG_0341.JPG
Atiu, Cook Islands

2016-05-12-1463089039-305051-IMG_7952.JPG
Mamanuca Islands, Fiji

2016-05-12-1463089152-5609429-IMG_8023.JPG
Kuata, Yasawa Islands, Fiji

2016-05-12-1463089253-6694286-IMG_8176.JPG
Another

2016-05-12-1463089329-4239502-IMG_8327.JPG
And another

2016-05-12-1463089437-4478151-IMG_8438.JPG
Naviti, Yasawa Islands, Fiji

Also included here in the South Pacific are the Micronesian archipelago countries although they lie north of the Equator.

2016-05-14-1463240391-2688905-IMG_4150.JPG
Rock Islands, Palau

2016-05-14-1463240477-7556754-IMG_4225.JPG
Peleliu, Palau

2016-05-14-1463242900-4899157-IMG_4320.JPG
Yap, Federated States of Micronesia

2016-05-14-1463243013-363409-IMG_4403.JPG
Yap

2016-05-14-1463243747-8172307-IMG_4542.JPG
Tinian, Marianas - from where the planes carrying the A-bombs to Hiroshima and Nagasaki took off

2016-05-14-1463244001-6631776-IMG_4821.JPG
Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia

2016-05-14-1463244190-2589131-IMG_5161.JPG
Khosrae, Federated States of Micronesia

[Upcoming blog next Sunday: More Splendid Beaches, From Hawaii To Papua New Guinea To The World At Large]

______________
By the same author: Bussing The Amazon: On The Road With The Accidental Journalist, available with free excerpts on Kindle and in print version on Amazon.

Swimming With Fidel: The Toils Of An Accidental Journalist, available on Kindle, with free excerpts here, and in print version on Amazon in the U.S here.