1. Las Islas Cies, Galicia, Spain
One of the jewels of this coast is on Las Islas Cies, a 40-minute boat trip from the pretty town of Baiona. Once a pirates' haunt, Cies is now an uninhabited and pristine national park, open to the public only in summer.

Locals call this their "Caribbean beach", and the water is turquoise enough, the sand white enough to believe the comparison … until you dip your toe in the water. Then it feels more like Skegness. You can sleep in an idyllic campsite, shaded by tall pine trees, with a view over the ocean. And, this being Spain, there's even a proper restaurant serving great seafood.

2. Tayrona national park, Colombia
You will be greeted with a wild sea crashing on to rocks the size of houses that are dotted along the untamed and semi-deserted beach. In a country with a "healthier" tourist industry Tayrona would undoubtedly be a major resort, but as it's in Colombia the virgin rainforest cascades down the mountainside right on to the sand. And there was no one on it save a small community of backpackers who sleep in open-air hammocks.

3. Porto da Barra, Salvador, Brazil
The location is stunning, at the entrance of the magnificent Bahia de Todos os Santos, with a small, white colonial fort at one end and a whitewashed church sitting up on a hill at the other. There's always something going on here: small fishing boats unloading their catch, young lads diving into the sea off the old stone harbour walls, older boys eyeing up girls, beach volleyball, football and tennis. As the beach is in a bay the water is calm and also (given that it is right in the heart of Brazil's third-largest city) incredibly clean and clear, so it's perfect for swimming. And in a country with over 7,000km of east-facing coastline, the Porto is one of the few facing west, so you can watch some fabulous sunsets.

4. Anywhere on Palawan, the Philippines
The western island group of Palawan, which even Filipinos describe as their country's last frontier, is inconceivably exotic and tropical. It's an archipelago of jagged limestone islands with underground rivers, rocky coves, virgin rainforest and, of course, sugar-white sandy beaches. Honda Bay, which has several islets including Cannon Island, Bat Island and Starfish Island, is one of the most popular but the fun in Palawan is in discovering your own deserted stretch of sand.

5. Nungwi, Zanzibar, Tanzania
The island of Zanzibar is the jewel of the east-African coast, with its spice trade, labyrinthine old Stone Town and, of course, around 30 beaches, nearly all of which are to die for. One of the best is Nungwi, near the northern tip of the island. The coastline has a shallow slope so the sapphire water, white sand and coral build-ups forming a calm sea which stretches for miles and is home to thousands of marine animals. Dotted with tiny fishing villages that have barely changed in centuries, the Zanzibar coastline has a dreamy timeless air.

6. Arambol, Goa, India
Arambol, the state’s northernmost beach has its share of ageing hippies and seasonal expats, but the spectacular, sweeping stretch of sand is so beautiful it wins over even the most jaded and cynical of travellers. It is so vast that it´s easy to find your own private corner of sand. Around the rocky headland there is another beach where you can walk for miles without coming across a soul, or hang out at the freshwater lake backed by a small jungle.

7. Whitehaven, Whitsunday Islands, Queensland, Australia
Imagine super-fine, white silica sand surrounded by warm, clear, azure waters sandwiched between tropical forest with various islands dotted around in the distance. Just make sure you come for longer than a day (the preferred option) as once the day cruisers have left you can walk around here or curl up under the shade of the forest and feel like you have this uninhabited piece of paradise all to yourself.

8. Shell Beach, Isle of Purbeck, Dorset
The point is when the scenery gets really wild and interesting heading south or west out of London. There is a huge expanse of sand backed by miles of dunes. In summer, spend the whole day here watching the boats – everything from small yachts to mega ferries heading to France - sailing in and out of Poole harbour. Near the entrance to the chain ferry the Shell Bay Bar and Restaurant has a lovely view of the harbour. It's the perfect spot for a late afternoon beer or, if you´re pushing the boat out, great seafood in the restaurant right on the water.

9. Sinclair´s Bay, Caithness
Just eight miles south of John O’Groats in Scotland but - when the sun comes out - the white sand and sparkling blue sea of Sinclair’s Bay look more like the Caribbean than Caithness. Framed by a 16th-century castle at each end and with a spectacular array of wildlife including plovers, dunlins, porpoises and occasionally orca - both on and off shore, Sinclair´s Bay has the lot.

10. Aroa, Aitutaki, One Foot Island, Cook Islands
It takes forever to get to this coral atoll necklaced by an azure lagoon, but the snorkelling, fishing and scuba-diving make this hidden paradise one of the best beaches in the south Pacific.
guardian, UK
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Funny cartoon of the day

Funny cartoon of the day