As the sun beats down on the crystal-clear water and soft sand between your toes, it’s hard not to feel grateful for all the beauty the world has to offer. For beach lovers, there’s no better way to explore the world than by visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are located near stunning beaches. From historical landmarks to natural wonders, we’ve rounded up the best UNESCO World Heritage Sites for beach lovers.
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
The Galapagos Islands were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1978, recognizing their outstanding natural value and unique biodiversity. The islands are located in the Pacific Ocean and are known for their diverse array of wildlife, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. The Galapagos are home to a large number of endemic species, including the famous Galapagos tortoise, marine iguanas, and the Galapagos penguin. The islands’ remote location has allowed for the evolution of many endemic species and serves as a “living laboratory” for the study of evolutionary processes. The waters surrounding the islands are also an important marine reserve that protects a rich marine ecosystem.
The beaches of the Galapagos are popular with tourists for their stunning natural beauty and unique wildlife sightings. Visitors can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and diving in the crystal-clear waters alongside sea lions, marine iguanas, and colorful fish. The beaches are also an important nesting site for marine turtles, providing a rare opportunity to observe these gentle creatures up close.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system, stretching over 2,300 kilometers along the coast of Australia’s Queensland state. The Great Barrier Reef is home to over 1,500 species of fish, 4,000 types of mollusks, and 400 types of coral, making it one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world.
The beaches of the Great Barrier Reef are one of the main attractions for visitors. There are over 600 islands in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and many of these have stunning white sand beaches that are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling. The crystal-clear waters surrounding the reef are perfect for exploring the diverse marine life that inhabits the area, and visitors can also take part in activities such as diving and fishing. The Great Barrier Reef is a bucket-list destination for many travelers, and its stunning beaches and rich marine life make it a must-visit UNESCO World Heritage Site for any nature lover.
Cinque Terre, Italy
Cinque Terre is a series of five colorful fishing villages located along the rugged coast of the Italian Riviera. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is known for its stunning natural beauty and hiking trails that connect each village. Visitors can take a boat ride along the coast or hike through the terraced vineyards to see the villages from above. The beaches in Cinque Terre are small and rocky but are still worth a visit for the incredible views and tranquil atmosphere.
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Ha Long Bay is a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site located in northern Vietnam. This natural wonder is made up of over 1,600 islands and islets that rise from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. Visitors can take a boat tour through the bay to see the incredible limestone cliffs and caves up close. Many of the islands have secluded beaches where visitors can relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.
Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania
Stone Town is a historic town located on the island of Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a maze of narrow streets and alleyways lined with colorful buildings and bustling markets. The town is also home to some beautiful beaches, including Kendwa and Nungwi, which are known for their white sand and clear water. Visitors can explore the town and then head to the beach for some relaxation.
Rapa Nui, Chile
Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island, is a remote island located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is known for its mysterious Moai statues, which were carved by the island’s indigenous people over 1,000 years ago. The island also has some beautiful beaches, including Anakena Beach, which is known for its white sand and clear blue water. Visitors can spend the day lounging on the beach or exploring the nearby ruins of Ahu Tongariki, which is the largest Ahu, or platform, on the island.
Lagoons of New Caledonia, France
This site, located in the southwest Pacific, consists of six different coral reef systems and offers an unparalleled opportunity to explore the underwater world. The area is known for its crystal clear waters and abundant marine life. Visitors can enjoy a variety of beach activities such as swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving to explore the diverse coral reefs and underwater wildlife. The beaches of Nouméa, the capital of New Caledonia, are a popular spot for sunbathing and beach volleyball.
Belize Barrier Reef System, Belize
The Belize Barrier Reef System is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located off the coast of Belize in Central America. The reef system is the second-largest in the world and is home to an incredible array of marine life, including sea turtles, sharks, and hundreds of species of fish. Visitors can enjoy a variety of beach activities such as swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving to explore the coral reefs and underwater caves. For a unique experience, visitors can also try their hand at fly-fishing for bonefish in the shallow waters of the reef.
Redwood National and State Park, United States of America
Located in Northern California, USA, the area is known for its towering redwood trees, which can reach heights of up to 379 feet. Visitors can take a leisurely walk through the forest to explore the different groves of redwoods, or hike the trails to discover hidden waterfalls and stunning vistas. For a beach experience, visitors can head to the nearby Crescent Beach, which offers great surfing and tidepooling opportunities.
Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (Sulu Sea), Philippines
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a marine park located in the Sulu Sea in the Philippines. It is home to diverse marine life such as over 600 species of fish and 360 species of coral. Visitors can go snorkeling or diving to explore the park’s vibrant reefs, swim with sea turtles, and encounter sharks and other marine creatures. Visitors can also take a boat tour to see the park’s lighthouse and watch the sunset over the sea.
Historic Town of St George and Related Fortifications, Bermuda
The Historic Town of St George and Related Fortifications are a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Bermuda. The area is known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and beautiful beaches. Visitors can explore the cobblestone streets of St George, which are lined with historic buildings and museums. For a beach experience, visitors can head to Tobacco Bay, which offers great snorkeling and swimming opportunities.