7 epic beach destinations you've never heard of
Waves roll in one after another, palm trees sway in the breeze, gulls circle silently and time seems to stand still. A secluded beach is the perfect place to reconnect with friends and family, or maybe just reconnect with yourself. You'll find pristine, quiet beaches in every corner of the globe, but the very best might just be the ones you've never heard of.
Hit the surf at Muriwai Beach, New Zealand
Despite being less than 40 minutes from Auckland, Muriwai Beach is practically unknown except to locals who have dubbed it one of the best surf spots in New Zealand. Soak up the sun in a sheltered cove, forage the black-sand beach for mussels at low tide or take advantage of the consistent beach break that makes Maori Bay such a renowned surfing destination. Get there early in the day to grab a coffee or have breakfast at Sand Dunz Beach Cafe, just outside the main beach parking lot.
Have Saline Beach on St. Barts to yourself
A far cry from the tourist destinations that have taken over some corners of Saint Barthélemy, or St. Barts, Saline Beach is one-third of a mile of untouched sand with nothing but lush vegetation on one side and crystal-clear Caribbean water on the other. Maybe it's the five-minute hike from the parking area that keeps some people away, but there's a good chance you'll have the beach all to yourself when you get there. Hop on a direct flight from Houston to Princess Juliana International Airport on the Dutch side of the neighboring island of St. Martin, and from there it's just a beautiful 40-minute ferry ride to St. Barts.
Sample local flavors at Cirali Beach, Turkey
You can thank the loggerhead turtles for the untouched expanse of white sand that is Cirali Beach. Development is banned here because these endangered sea turtles live and nest along the shore, making this one of Turkey's most pristine beaches. The surrounding landscape is nothing to shrug about either — towering mountains overlook the Mediterranean Sea. A mere 90 minutes from Antalya Airport, the village of Cirali has a great selection of restaurants serving traditional Turkish fare like kebobs and pide, a Turkish variation on pizza.
Go wild on Georgia's Cumberland Island
Cumberland Island National Seashore lies less than a mile from the Georgia coast, yet this undeveloped island feels hundreds of miles — and maybe hundreds of years — from civilization. It's a place where Spanish moss hangs from gnarled oak trees and wild horses roam 18 miles of windswept beach. Pack your rod and reel for some incredible surf fishing in the Atlantic Ocean or take a few hours to explore Cumberland Island's maze of remote hiking trails. You can even bring a tent and camp on the beach overnight. The city of St. Marys, Georgia, is just a half hour from Jacksonville International Airport; from there it's just a short kayak trip or ferry ride to Cumberland Island.
Discover Bali's hidden beach
Bali's beaches are, for the most part, no secret. This Indonesian province is practically synonymous with sand and surf, yet one of the true hidden gems of the Indian Ocean lies at Green Bowl Beach. Accessible by stone steps and practically invisible from the cliffs above, it's no stretch to call Green Bowl Beach “hidden." Once you brave the steps, the beach becomes the perfect secluded hideaway for snorkelers, explorers and surfing fanatics. High tide nearly erases Green Bowl Beach most afternoons, so pack a light picnic and enjoy the beach early in the day, and then head back topside where you'll find a few small shops with cold drinks and fresh young coconuts for sale. Don't miss out on the beautiful cliff-top Uluwatu Temple, which hosts nightly kecak music and fire-dance performances.
Explore the remote coast of Minorca
Considerably more low-key than its island neighbors of Mallorca and Ibiza, Minorca —accessible by ferry from Barcelona — is surrounded by the tranquil waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The island boasts a coastline that alternates between rugged limestone cliffs and sheltered, turquoise-colored bays. A 45-minute drive along the coast to the Cap de Favártix lighthouse offers ample views of the coast's more forbidding seashore, but just south of the lighthouse you'll find two of Minorca's most scenic and secluded beaches: Cala Presili and Platja d'en Tortuga. Both beaches are completely undeveloped with roadside parking within a few minutes walk from the water. Pack a few blankets and a picnic lunch, take a dip in the quiet waters, or look for wildflowers blooming above the beachside dunes.
Escape the Crowds Near Sydney, Australia
Sydney has a lot of well-known beaches that draw huge crowds on summer days, but some of the area's best beaches are less famous. Milk Beach, in the wealthy Sydney suburb of Vaucluse, offers white sand, rugged rock formations and a perfect vantage point from which to watch the sun set over Sydney. You can access the beach through the grounds of the historic Strickland House, an 1850s mansion that is open to the public. If you have a little extra time, take a day trip across Sydney Harbor to Store Beach, a tiny out-of-the-way spot that harbors a colony of endangered fairy penguins — the smallest penguins in the world.
In an age when there are few blank places left on the map, there's no experience more rewarding than discovering a perfect getaway and having it all to yourself. Whether your destination is a far-flung beach resort or your own private tropical paradise, United and our Star Alliance partners are dedicated to getting you there. Visit united.com or use the United app to start planning today.