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.
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.
On March 19, 2020, United operated its first flight carrying cargo without passengers on board. While the passenger cabin was empty, its cargo hold was completely full, carrying more than 29,000 pounds of commodities from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Frankfurt Airport (FRA).
A year later, United Cargo has operated more than 11,000 cargo-only flights carrying more than 570 million pounds of freight. To support the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts, United Cargo has also transported more than 113 million pounds of medical and pharmaceutical products on both cargo-only and passenger flights as well as approximately 10 million COVID-19 vaccines, providing global communities access to the items they have needed most.
"At the beginning of the pandemic, we knew we were uniquely positioned to utilize our widebody aircraft and our network to keep commodities moving, so we quickly mobilized various departments throughout the airline to launch a cargo-only network of flights that would keep commodities moving," said United Cargo President Jan Krems. "Thanks to those efforts, United Cargo has delivered millions of items to countries all around the world. We would not have been successful without the steadfast support of our employees, industry partners and our customers."
Since last March, United Cargo has transported almost 850 million pounds of freight on cargo-only and passenger flights. The airline will continue to monitor market trends adjust its cargo-only flight schedules to help ensure we are meeting our customer's evolving shipping needs.
Whether you haven't flown with us for a while or just need a quick refresher before your spring trip, read this list of tips to know before your flight and arrive at the airport travel-ready:
1. Download the United app for contactless bag check, travel assistance and more
Before your flight, download the United app to view your flight status, check in, sign up for flight notifications, locate departure gates, access our free personal device entertainment when available and more. We've also updated our app with new features that can make your trip a little safer, including contactless bag check.
Don't forget to use Agent on Demand for help with any and all questions you may have before your flight. This new capability is available at all our U.S. hub airports and allows you to use your own mobile device to contact a customer service agent via phone, video or chat to help with day-of-travel questions while you're at the airport. Learn more about Agent on Demand here.
2. Check out the Travel-Ready Center
Our Travel-Ready Center makes it easy to get a personalized overview of everything you need to do in preparation for your flight. Just enter your confirmation number or MileagePlus® number and you'll find detailed information on all the documents, tests and more that you'll need for your trip.
3. Read and sign the Ready-to-Fly checklist
Before completing check-in, all United travelers will need to read our Ready-to-Fly checklist and confirm that they understand and agree to our policies. These include:
Acknowledging that you haven't had any symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
Agreeing that you will not fly if you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 21 days
Confirming that you will follow all policies regarding face masks, social distancing and other health and safety measures we've adopted
4. Arrive early; avoid the stress
Airports can be busy, especially during peak travel periods like spring break season. The TSA advises arriving at the airport two hours before your flight for domestic travel and three hours for international travel in anticipation of long security lines. This can help ease the stress when navigating busy check-in areas, security lines and crowded boarding gates.
5. Get familiar with CleanPlus
United CleanPlus℠ is our commitment to delivering industry-leading cleanliness as we put health and safety at the forefront of your experience. We've teamed up with Clorox to redefine our cleaning and disinfection procedures and Cleveland Clinic to advise us on enhancing our cleaning and disinfection protocols, like:
Disinfecting high-touch areas on board and in the terminal
Using electrostatic spraying, Ultraviolet C lighting wands and more advanced measures to clean aircraft cabins before boarding
Redesigning our mobile app to allow for touchless check-in and contactless payment, along with enhanced travel assistance features
Implementing high-efficiency (HEPA) filters on our aircraft that completely recirculate cabin air every 2-3 minutes and remove 99.97% of airborne particles, including viruses and bacteria
Studies show COVID-19 exposure risk is minimal when air filtration systems and masks are in use, so you can rest assured that the steps we've taken to keep you safe truly make a difference.
6. Wear your mask
Federal law requires all travelers to wear a face mask in the airport, including customer service counters, airport lounges, gates and baggage claim, and on board during their entire flight. Make sure you review the requirements for face masks, including what an acceptable face mask looks like.
7. Get ready for a safer boarding process
To make boarding even safer, we now have travelers board their aircraft from back to front. At the gate, just listen for your row number to be called – we'll ask a few rows at a time to board, starting with the last row of the plane. This helps everyone maintain a safe distance from each other during boarding without slowing things down. As you step onto the plane, flight attendants will hand each passenger a sanitizing towelette, which you can use to wipe down your seat to ensure it's extra clean.
8. Pack smart
Before packing your bags, check to see what exactly you can carry on and what you should plan to check. You can also copy your confirmation number into our Baggage Calculator tool to learn about the bag allowance included with your reservation, as well as the cost of checking any additional bags.
9. Check your flight status, important notices and weather
Check the United app regularly for the latest updates on weather conditions, flight status, gate numbers and seat assignments. You can also visit our Important Notices page to find essential information and updates about travel waivers, international travel, TSA and security, airports and United Club locations.
10. Relax and enjoy your flight
Once you're on board, it's time to sit back and enjoy your flight. Our flight attendants will be happy to help you with anything else you need.
This week, we were honored to become the first U.S. airline to join the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by transporting the vaccine and other critically needed supplies to underserved areas of the globe.
"We are committed to helping the global community in any way we can, and we all must work together to do our part to bring this health and humanitarian crisis to an end," said Director of Cargo Specialty Products Manu Jacobs.
We will leverage our expertise to transport these critical pharmaceutical and healthcare shipments around the world safely, efficiently and expediently. We are proud to partner with the United Nations to support this global effort and provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Together, we are facing an unprecedented challenge. United Together, we rise to meet that challenge.
Calling all AvGeeks and travelers! Take your next video call from a United Polaris® seat, the cockpit or cruising altitude with United-themed backgrounds for use on Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
Newly added to our collection is a background encouraging our employees and customers to vote. Our mission is to connect people and unite the world — and one of the most important ways to do that is to engage in the democratic process. No matter which party you support, we know our democracy will be stronger if you make your voice heard and vote.
So for your next meeting or catch up with friends and family, download the app to either your computer or mobile device to get started.
To use on Zoom:
- Start here by downloading your favorite United image to your computer or mobile device. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- Next go to your Zoom app (you'll need to download the app to access backgrounds) and click on the arrow to the right of your video camera icon in the bottom of the screen.
- From here select, "choose virtual background" to upload your uniquely United photo.
To use on Microsoft Teams:
- Start by downloading your favorite United image to your computer. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- C:\[insert your device user name here]\AppData\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads
- If you're using a Mac copy the images to this folder on your computer:
- /users/<username>/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds/Uploads
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- Once you start a Teams meeting, click the "…" in the menu bar and select "Show background effects" and your image should be there
Watch our most popular videos
This is why we fly.
20 UCSF Health workers, who voluntarily set aside their own lives to help save lives, are on their way to New York City.
We are humbled by your selfless sacrifice.
In celebration and appreciation of all first responders and essential workers. 👏🏻👏🏼👏🏽👏🏾👏🏿
This is the story of Jason and Shantel. You see, Jason and Shantel love each other very much. They also love traveling and they love the classic Adam Sandler film, The Wedding Singer.
It all began when Jason reached out to United's social media team, hoping for assistance with his upcoming plan to propose. Some phone calls and one borrowed guitar later, the stage was set for Jason. Put all that together, mix in some helpful United employees and, voila, you have a truly memorable marriage proposal. Congratulations to this fun-loving and happy couple, and here's to many more years of making beautiful music together.
A big thank you to Chicago-based flight attendants Donna W., Marie M., Karen J. and Mark K. for making this proposal come to life.