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ANN RUPPENSTEIN Main photo courtesy Tourism Authority of Thailand
As snow piles up across the country and temperatures continue to drop, many Canadians long for a hot beach escape. From remote stretches of sand in far-flung locales to the ever-popular Caribbean getaways, there are a bounty of spectacular places for travellers to soak up the sun, whether they seek white, pink or even black sand. So, where exactly should your clients go to hit the beach this winter?
As part of Baxter Media’s annual Agents’ Choice voting process, Travel Courier Digital got the travel trade to weigh-in with their picks for the best beaches around the globe.
The results are in… Here are the top 17 beaches in the world, selected by Canadian travel agents.
17) Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda
It turns out Bermuda’s most famous stretch of sand, Horseshoe Bay Beach, is also a favourite with travel professionals across the country. Agents are fans of the baby powder-like texture of this popular crescent-shaped beach, but it’s the pink colour of the sand that truly makes it stand out.
16) Crane Beach, Barbados
Often found on “best beaches” lists by outlets like USA Today and CNN, Crane Beach, Barbados is surrounded by cliffs and protected by a natural coral reef. Agents praised the soft white sand, its close proximity to the airport, and the ability to do water activities like boogie boarding.
15) The beaches of Aitutaki and Rarotonga, Cook Islands
The pristine beaches of Aitutaki and Rarotonga, Cook Islands are overall “absolute gems” among Canadian agents. While it may take a while to get there, as the islands are found roughly halfway between Auckland and Hawaii, it’s worth it for “beautiful crystal clear turquoise water and flour-like sand.” One agent even described the remote paradise as “perfect in every way,” while another boasted it’s “the ultimate relaxation spot and it’s never crowded.”
14) Magens Bay and Trunk Bay, USVI
No. 14 comes in with a tie, as travel agents are torn between two staple USVI beaches: Magens Bay, St. Thomas and Trunk Bay, St. John. Votes for Trunk Bay included comments on its beautiful white sand, clear blue water, the spectacular scenery and tranquillity, while those in favour of Magens Bay were drawn to its clear blue-green water, secluded location and the softness of the sand.
13) Whitehaven Beach, Australia
It may be Down Under, but the award-winning Whitehaven Beach came up high as a favourite among the trade. This stunning and unspoiled 7 km stretch of sand in the Whitsunday Islands is untouched by development and often named the best beach in Australia. With its white silica sand, praise from agents included, “It’s to die for, it has the softest white sand and the clearest warmest blue water I have ever seen,” “It takes your breath away. Gorgeous turquoise waters,” and, “7 km of amazing powder white sand, azure blue water and almost no people.”
12) Eagle Beach, Aruba
Featuring the widest beach in Aruba, Eagle Beach garnered many votes from agents, who were attracted to its pristine and soft white sand, aqua green water, and a location below the hurricane belt. One nomination simply called it “magical,” while others noted the shallowness of the water makes it very family friendly. “The beach is spotless, the water is so clear you can see all the marine life. It’s so fun when you have angel fish swimming up to you when you are in knee-deep water.”
11) Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman
Another frequent contender on “best of” lists ranging from Caribbean Travel + Life and TripAdvisor to MSN, Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman is a high-ranking favourite. Agents rave about the calmness and clarity of the water, along with the powdery soft sand of the expansive waterfront. “The water is so calm and warm, it’s like swimming in a pool,” noted one agent nomination.
10) Patong Beach, Phuket and Railay Beach, Krabi, Thailand
The beaches of Thailand are among the best in the world for Canadian agents, marking the first entry into the top 10 list. “Thailand has the most amazing beaches ever, it puts Mexico and the Caribbean to shame,” claimed one agent. Although there were numerous beaches in the running, Patong Beach, Phuket and Railay Beach, Krabi were the top picks. Of Railay Beach, one agent admired the “white sand, where blue waters meet lush tropical forest. Best of all, it’s not overly crowded.” Although Patong Beach is busier, agents also took to its white sand, its easy access from nearby resorts and its scenic and Instagrammable surroundings next to the glittering sea.
9) Siesta Key and St. Pete Beach
Florida has long been a favourite destination for Canadians, so it’s not a surprise that two beaches from the state wound up on the list. Tied for 9th place are Siesta Key and St. Pete Beach. Those who voted for Siesta Key love how wide the fine powdery beach is and how the sand always feels cool no matter how hot it is out. “You can walk for miles and miles – so pristine and peaceful,” said one agent, while another described the turquoise water, with clear and white sand as, “simply breathtaking.” Meanwhile, those who voted for St. Pete Beach were enamoured by its long length, cleanliness, and all the shops and boutiques.
8) Matira Beach, Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Surrounded by lush palm trees, Matira Beach is an “exquisite” mile of white sand on the southern tip of Bora Bora island. Even agents who haven’t been there in person said clients raved that it’s beyond beautiful. “It has sand as soft as talcum powder and warm crystal clear water with so many colours,” said one agent. “As well as stunning sunsets and scenery.” In general, beaches across the islands of French Polynesia were a big hit among agents for being untouched and scenic.
7) Cable Beach, Bahamas
Although the beaches of Abaco and the Exumas also topped the charts, the ease of getting to Cable Beach in Nassau proved attractive for travel agents. A popular spot for all-inclusive resorts in the area, agents are fans of the sugar-fine white sand and turquoise waters. “The sand was like icing sugar, it was so soft, the water so clear, you could see the bottom even from far away,” reads one vote.
6) Bavaro Beach, Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is another destination loaded with remarkable white-sand beaches and crystal clear blue waters. In particular, agents favoured Bavaro Beach because of its location – noting guests can leave their hotel rooms and be on the beach within seconds. “It’s just gorgeous and clean,” said a travel adviser. “You can see the sea life through the water so clearly and you don’t have to walk a mile to get to it.” There’s also lots to do in terms of water activities, making it a great option for families and adventure-seeking couples. “It’s wide, endless and gorgeous with big swaying palm trees,” said another entry.
5) Punta Maroma, Mexico
Making it to the top five as the favourite beach among Canadian agents is the beach of Punta Maroma, Mexico. Located near Playa del Carmen in a protected bay, agents like how the water is calm regardless of the weather and equate the sand to “walking on icing sugar.”
4) Black Sand Beach (Pa’iloa), Wai’anapanapa State Park and Kaanapali Beach, Hawaii
Why choose between a white and a black sand beach? In Hawaii, travellers can have both. Although the beaches across the islands of Hawaii were popular overall among travel agents, it was Pa’iloa Beach, often referred to as Black Sand Beach in Wai’anapanapa State Park and Kaanapali Beach, Maui, which received the most nominations. Of the former, agents were in awe of the contrast between the dark sand and the piercing deep blue and green hues of the water, and being able to explore its ocean cave. At the same time, many agents were lured in by the soft sand and beautiful water at Kaanapali Beach, and its close proximity to Black Rock, a great spot for snorkelling and sea turtle encounters. “It feels like you’re in paradise,” read one agent nomination.
3) Seven Mile Beach, Negril, Jamaica
Seven Mile Beach in Negril may actually only measure 6.3 miles, but it still measures up as one of the top beaches in the world among the travel trade across the country. Agents admired the white powdery sand and crystal clear waters, which also boasts beautiful sunsets. One agent even dubbed it “seven miles of heaven.”
2) Grace Bay Beach, Turks and Caicos
Frequently ranked as the best beach in the world, and a direct-flight away for many Canadians, Grace Bay Beach, Turks and Caicos nears the top of the list. Named by TripAdvisor as the World’s Best Beach in the 2018 Travelers’ Choice Awards, agents love Grace Bay Beach because of its pristine long beach with soft white sand, the shallowness and clarity of the turquoise water, and the ability to go snorkelling and diving nearby, with a location in a bay protected by a barrier reef system. “It’s almost heaven on earth,” said one agent. Another described it as, “definitely the best, whitest, most powdery beach in the world.” “It always delivers,” reads another vote. “The most beautiful beach I’ve walked on.”
1) Varadero Beach, Cuba
Overwhelmingly popular and by a landslide victory, Cuba’s Varadero Beach came in as the absolute favourite beach among Canadian travel agents. Endless comments were made about the whiteness of the sand, which some compared to icing sugar. “It’s the best beach in the world, the softest, whitest and the cleanest sand,” said one agent. While another noted, “no matter how hot it is, the sand doesn’t burn your feet.” Honourable mentions also go out to the beaches of Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo and Cayo Santa Maria of the Jardines del Rey chain, which were also extremely popular.
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