Social media tags, guidebook features, and simple ease of access have turned some beaches from wide-open spaces into crowded spots where you’ll have to fight for a free patch of sand. Fortunately, escaping the hordes doesn’t mean going too far. We’ve found the best less-crowded alternatives to the world’s most popular beaches.
Haeundae Beach, Busan, South Korea
The golden sand of Haeundae Beach isn’t the only enticing thing about the most popular beach in South Korea. Towering hotels, casinos, eateries, shopping, entertainment, a robust nightlife and amenities offered near Haeundae make it a fun place to go. The only trouble is everyone else is thinking the same thing. When school’s out, families flock to the beach, making it hard to find a patch of sand all your own. The beach is packed with rows and rows of umbrellas while the water is filled with tubes.
Go here instead: Songjeong Beach.
Songjeong is the quieter neighbor with a soft strip of sand, great surfing, and incredible views. While it is not without amenities, it definitely isn’t the mosh pit party that Haeundae can be.
Bondi Beach, Australia
Beyond the close proximity to Sydney, Bondi Beach has a lot to offer visitors. The beach community toutes itself as a blend of ocean life with city charms. Visitors love the shops, surfing, whale and dolphin sightings, walking trails, and art galleries. The iconic, seaside Bondi Iceberg pool is an experience you won’t want to miss. Yet, the development around Bondi and the variety of activities offered can make it uncomfortably busy at times.
Go here instead: Manly Beach.
If you want to avoid major crowds at Bondi, take a short ferry ride to Manly Beach. Manly still offers a number of fun activities, but with fewer people. The laid-back atmosphere of this beach helps with relaxation.
Ipanema is a scenic beach near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where you go to be seen. There’s every social activity and group imaginable at Ipanema, not to mention upscale boutiques and cafes to enjoy. It’s urban location brings in a lot of people, so if you’re not ready for intense socialization, you might want to look elsewhere.
Go here instead: Barra da Tijuca.
Another urban beach near Rio de Janeiro, Barra da Tijuca, is a larger beach that still offers a bevy of activities to enjoy, including shopping, kite surfing, surfing, fishing, cycling, and more.
Magaluf, Majorca, Spain
The turquoise waters and golden sand combined with lively attractions bring a lot of people to Magaluf on the island of Majorca in Spain. The beach is nice and wide, which allows for a large number of people to visit.
Go here instead: Cala Mesquida
If you still want to visit the turquoise waters of Majorca without the intense crowds of Magaluf, take a look at Cala Mesquida. The sea is shallow for a long distance, making it perfect for snorkeling and swimming.
Brighton Beach, U.K.
Travelers love Brighton’s promenade, pier, and scores of shops and eateries. There are tons of activities and the views are fantastic. It does have a pebble beach, and there’s not much of it until low tide, which can make it feel all the more crowded.
Go here instead: Eastbourne, U.K.
Eastbourne is a much quieter alternative to Brighton, but with plenty of activities and incredible scenery. Visit the Seven Sisters, Treasure Island Adventure Park, the Miniature Steam Railway Park, or take tea at one of the many seaview Victorian hotels.
Fujiazhuang Beach Park, Dalian, China
You’ll be hard pressed to find a beach more jam-packed with people than that of Fujiazhuang in Dalian, China. Dalian has great sand, swimming, and an interesting array of seafood restaurants that draws a big crowd. During peak season, you’ll find 40,000 people packed on the 1,600 foot stretch of sand every day.
Go here instead: Tiger Beach Ocean Park, Dalian, China
There are still crowds at Tiger Beach, though they may not be as thick at neighboring Fujiazhuang. There are more activities at Tiger Beach, as well. Families may enjoy the zoo and aquarium near the beach.
Dameisha Bathing Beach, China
Dameisha enjoys a beautiful setting complete with clean, golden sand and a great swimming beach. There are a lot of amenities, including hotels, cafes, and activities. Some reviewers say it’s not the best beach and the crowds can be a real turn-off.
Go here instead: Xichong Beach
Some travelers call this the best beach in Shenzhen. It’s not nearly as crowded as Dameisha, but is perfect for surfing and sunbathing. You can also camp on the beach here to catch the sunrise.
Beau Rivage, Nice, France
The Beau Rivage beach in Nice, France has just a small swatch of pebbled beach stretching into the ocean, making lounging space hard to come by. Yet, travelers love the feel of this sun-drenched city along the Mediterranean and crowd its pebbled beaches.
Go here instead: Plage de la Marinière, Villefranche-sur-Mer
It’s a bit quieter, with a small sandy beach for building sandcastles. The Old Harbor makes for a wonderful stroll and there are plenty of seaside cafes to enjoy the view from.
Rabat Beach, Morocco
The Rabat beach in Morocco is packed with people during the summer. It’s no surprise, given the beach is home to a city of 1.2 million. The beach is taken up by a host of soccer games and you’re just steps from the medina.
Go here instead: Mehdia Beach, Kenitra, Morocco
Mehdia has fantastic sand and beautiful water–without the same onslaught of tourists that Rabat does. There’s also plenty of fun activities to have out of the water here, like music, exhibitions, and dancing..
Coney Island, New York
There’s a lot to love about Coney Island. Two amusement parks, a roller coaster, the boardwalk, an aquarium, and a host of activities are enough to keep visitors entertained beyond the sand. But as one of the most accessible beaches near a population center like New York, you’re going to encounter crowds
Go here instead: Rockaway Beach
Though still pretty busy, Rockaway Beach doesn’t receive the crowds that Coney Island does. It’s low-key environment is perfect for watching surfers catch a wave.
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