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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check government advisories before scheduling trips.

There’s a timeless allure of a beach holiday – dreaming about sun loungers on white sand, big floppy hats and drinking chilled cocktails facing a lapping blue expanse never grows tired. While we might be in the throes of a lockdown, there’s no reason not to let our minds wander. From the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, Central America to Southeast Asia, here are eight secret beaches we are dreaming of right now.

1. Vallée de l’Ortolo, Corsica

The Mediterranean has many beaches to offer but for some peace and quiet,  there’s the Ortolo Valley. Located in southern Corsica, there are swooping valleys, intricate grottoes and clear turquoise waters. It’s a mix of coast and countryside, a blend that lends itself well to activities such as horseback riding, golf, hunting, fishing and kayaking. Though the best activity yet is simply lazing on the soft white sand and gazing up at the grassy cliffs that appear to climb towards the sky.

2. Fakistra, Greece

Though scenes from Mamma Mia! were filmed here, this lovely pebble beach with light green waters and wildflower-covered cliffs is still a well-kept secret. The tranquillity belies the journey it takes to arrive at this secret cove on the Pelion peninsula – a 20-minute steep downhill hike from the top of the footpath. Once down on the beach, there is plenty to explore including sea caves and a small waterfall.

3. Kaupoa Beach, Hawaii

This beach on the island of Molokai is a vision of a Hawaii of yesteryear. A contrast of white sand and black lava rocks, slanted palm trees and abandoned beach huts, Kaupoa is believed to be haunted. Part of an old ranch and resort that shuttered in 2008, the beach is a lot quieter these days. All the better as the tide pools are full of wonderful sea creatures, and on calm days, the waters are perfect for swimming and snorkelling.

4. Chacocente Wildlife Refuge, Nicaragua

The Central American country is well-known for its environmental protection efforts and it’s no wonder that Chacocente Wildlife Refuge is home to such pristine beaches with a thriving marine life. The refuge protects five species of turtles and from July to December, female sea turtles crawl up to the sand to lay eggs, a rare and spectacular sight. Further inland, tropical forests, swamps and rivers beckon birdwatchers.

5. Koh Lone, Thailand

For a real castaway feel, Koh Lone is Just a 15-minute boat ride from the coast of Phuket. Forget about tourist crowds and nightlife here – it’s mostly overgrown trees, coral beaches and white sand. The small local community makes a living from fishing and coconut planting, and if resting by the lapping waters isn’t enough, the island also offers Thai cooking lessons, batik-printing class and even classes on how to catch octopus.

6. Es Trenc, Mallorca

With chalk-white sand and impossibly sparkling blue waters, this stretch on Mallorca’s south coast is postcard perfect. The ban on developments on the coast means it’s a truly blissful beach. Blue beach umbrellas line the stretch and besides paddle-boating, there isn’t much to do but sunbathing and swimming. It’s all about relaxation – just don’t be shocked by the nudist section! Behind the beach are sand dunes, shrubs and wetlands that are home to an amazing array of bird species.

7. Arrifana, Portugal

A crescent-shaped beach on the Atlantic coast, Praia da Arrifana is not easy to access – it involves navigating a steep pedestrian-only road – which makes it feel like a real discovery. Dark black cliffs hug the golden-sand bay, where on the south is Needle Rock, a tall rock jutting out from the sea, and on the northernmost tip by a fishing harbour is a good surf spot. Bring a wetsuit, though, as the water is cold!

8. Kelebekler Vadisi, Turkey

The name means Butterfly Valley and it really is as enchanting as it sounds. Tall black cliffs plunge into brilliant azure waters on this untouched slice of Fethiye accessible only by boat. A preservation area since 1987, the valley is home to about 100 different butterfly species, most of which stay near a waterfall fringed with lavender flowers. Electricity here is reserved for powering the few restaurants and establishments and while it’s possible to stay overnight from March to November, arrangements must first be made with the Butterfly Valley Management.

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