With dozens of stunning ocean beaches within half an hour of downtown, there are few better urban beach destinations than Sydney. Famed Bondi Beach sees up to 40,000 on busy weekends. If quieter beaches appeal, take the coastal walk past smaller strands all the way to Coogee's calmer sands.
Perth's active beach scene is dominated by two main stretches: Civilized Cottesloe, just south of town, is the choice for families, swimmers and snorkelers. More lively Scarborough, just north of town, is by day popular with surfers (via water, wind and kite), and by night is a spirited beachside club scene.
Fiji's largest island, home to capital Suva, offers some wonderful beaches. Palm-fringed Natadola Beach, reputed to be one of the best beaches in the world, is a picture perfect crescent of powdery sand leading to dramatic cliffs. Coconuts hang overhead and the striking azure lagoon entices swimmers.
Although a fairly small island, Bora Bora offers visitors a multitude of activities. Go on a 4x4 safari, sunbathe and swim on white sandy beaches, dive in a natural underwater park among fish and corals, experience thrilling shark feedings or circle the turquoise lagoon by boat.
With a prominent coral reef eco-system, travelers have the opportunity to come face to face with the wonderful diversity of life that exists within it. Snorkel and scuba dive from pontoons or watch the parade of astounding creatures stream beneath your feet from a glass-bottomed boat.
Byron's legendary, lighthouse-dotted, white sand beaches are some of Australia's best. Situated where the Coral Sea meets the Tasman Sea, these clean, unpolluted, laid-back beaches remain relatively undeveloped and are great places to spot bottlenose dolphins, rays, whales and sea turtles.
For a beach vacation, Costa Rica is hard to beat. Some of the world's best sands sit on its coastline where water remains a delicious temperature year-round. Don't miss Manuel Antonio's picture-perfect crescent of sand, with its azure waters and jungle at its back or, for surfing, Playa Dominical.
A perfect little beach town on Australia's east coast, 48 miles from Brisbane, Surfer's Paradise sits amid seemingly endless stretches of pristine sand. Nature has conspired to create amazing conditions and the crashing waves teem with swimmers as well as novice and more advanced surfers.