12 Top Secret Beaches Around the World

Bring your compass and hiking boots to find these hidden gems.
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Video: Italy's Top 3 Secret Beaches

Start saving your pennies to visit these 3 incredible beaches in Italy.

Italy's Top 3 Secret Beaches

 00:59

Start saving your pennies to visit these 3 incredible beaches in Italy.

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To Sua Ocean Trench, Samoa

To Sua Ocean Trench, Samoa

There’s swimming holes, then there’s To Sua Ocean Trench. This 100-foot-deep jade green, saltwater swimming hole is on a volcanic island in Samoa. It's nothing short of magical and worthy of a pilgrimage to the South Pacific alone. 960 1280

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Bottomless Lakes State Park, New Mexico

Bottomless Lakes State Park, New Mexico

New Mexico’s first state park, Bottomless Lakes, is home to eight small sinkholes filled with underground water. Swimmers love to take a dip in the deepest -- Lea Lake. The 90-foot-deep water gives the illusion it is bottomless because of its dark greenish-blue water and steep walls. 960 1280

New Mexico Tourism  

Rio Celeste River Waterfall, Costa Rica

Rio Celeste River Waterfall, Costa Rica

You haven’t seen blue until you arrive at Rio Celeste Waterfall in northern Costa Rica. This river and waterfall in Tenorio Volcano National Park are a surreal shade of piercing electric-blue due to volcanic minerals, and just as inviting are the numerous natural hot springs along the river’s edge. 960 1280

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Bassin Bleu, Haiti

Bassin Bleu, Haiti

Hidden in the hills outside Jacmel, Haiti, Bassin Bleu is an oasis of turquoise-blue pools and cascades. After a bumpy ride through palm-tree lined dirt roads, you’ll be rendered speechless when you arrive at Bassin Bleu’s highest waterfall that’s sure to have a few local boys taking jaw-dropping jumps into the shimmering swimming hole below.

Explore more of Haiti’s hidden gems with Haitian-led tour company EIM Adventures.

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EIM Adventures; Emily Winiker  

Seljavallalaug, Iceland

Seljavallalaug, Iceland

Escape the Blue Hole crowds for a more private dip in one of Iceland’s oldest geothermal pools. At the base of a narrow valley on the country’s south coast, Seljavallalaug is filled with hot spring water trickling down from volcano/glacier Eyjafjallajökull (yes, the one that erupted in 2010). 960 1280

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Ik-Kil Cenote, Mexico

Ik-Kil Cenote, Mexico

With an estimated 7,000 cenotes in the Yucatan, Ik-Kil, near Chichen Itza, Mexico, is known to be one of the most beautiful with crystal-clear waters and dramatic hanging roots. 960 1280

Randy Bonds  

Playa Nicuesa Waterfall, Costa Rica

Playa Nicuesa Waterfall, Costa Rica

After a day of hiking in the jungles of Piedras Blancas National Park, take a dip at the waterfall near Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, so remote that it is only accessible by boat. Listen for the sounds of the area’s howler monkeys and the calls of the area’s unique 250 species of birds. 960 1280

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Emma Gorge Waterfall, Western Australia

Emma Gorge Waterfall, Western Australia

With dramatic gorges, El Questro Wilderness Park in the remote area of Kimberly, Australia, wows visitors with its natural wonders, including this secluded waterfall and swimming hole amidst the towering cliffs of Emma Gorge. 960 1280

Tourism Western Australia  

Jellyfish Lake, Palau

Jellyfish Lake, Palau

This isolated saltwater lake on an uninhabited rock island in Palau, an archipelago paradise 500 miles from the Philippines, is known for its millions of golden jellyfish. But don’t worry, this special species only give a mild sting, making swimming here not only safe, but an unforgettable adventure. 960 1280

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Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye, Scotland

When you think of Scotland, swimming holes might not come to mind, but a plunge into the crystal clear Fairy Pools on the River Brittle will certainly be nothing less than exhilarating (read: very cold) and perhaps a bit magical. Consider packing a wetsuit. 960 1280

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Dorset Quarry, Vermont

Dorset Quarry, Vermont

When the summer temps hit stifling levels in Vermont, there’s no place you’d rather be than at this 60-feet-deep swimming hole. Part of the country’s oldest marble quarry, there’s plenty of smooth stone ledges for basking in the sun or for taking a leap into the cool water below. 960 1280

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Saturnia Thermal Baths, Maremma, Italy

Saturnia Thermal Baths, Maremma, Italy

An hour’s drive south of Siena through the Chianti countryside, you'll find natural hot springs that border ancient Etruscan ruins. Saturnia's series of rock pools and cascades are opaque white due to the sulphurous minerals and hover around a steamy 98 degrees Fahrenheit. If you get too hot, cool off in the nearby Albegna Lake. 960 1280

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Queen’s Bath, Kauai

Queen’s Bath, Kauai

While this natural lava rock tide pool in Princeville, Kauai looks inviting, caution is extremely advised due to rapidly changing surf conditions and rogue waves. 960 1280

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Hamilton Pool Preserve, Austin, Texas

Hamilton Pool Preserve, Austin, Texas

In the outskirts of Austin, lies this jade green pool, part of a collapsed grotto and 50-foot-waterfall once revered by the Tonkawa and Lipan Apaches that lived in the area. Part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, Hamilton Pool requires reservations. 960 1280

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Blue Hole, Georgetown, Texas

Blue Hole, Georgetown, Texas

Texas summers are scorchers, but luckily the state has numerous swimming holes to take the edge of the heat. Blue Hole Park is home to a refreshing lagoon in the south fork of the Gabriel River that’s only a half-hour’s drive from Austin and offers free entrance. 960 1280

Rudy Ximenez  

Berekhat Zefira, Dead Sea Region, Israel

Berekhat Zefira, Dead Sea Region, Israel

For a truly under-the-radar waterhole, head to the Northern Negev in Israel’s Dead Sea region. With the expertise of a local guide, adventurous hikers can explore the hidden pools and water basins in the canyons northwest of Masada, just south of the Dead Sea. 960 1280

Triptip.com  

David Stream, Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, Israel

David Stream, Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, Israel

After hiking through the Ein Gedi, a nature reserve and national park with spectacular views of the Dead Sea, you’ll reach a waterfall oasis, a dramatic and refreshing contrast to the surrounding desert landscapes. 960 1280

Doron Nissim Israel Nature & Parks Authority  

Devils Bathtub, South Dakota

Devils Bathtub, South Dakota

In the Black Hills of South Dakota, there’s a deep swimming hole the locals have dubbed Devil’s Bathtub. Hike upstream to find a number of smaller hidden pools carved into the limestone, and even further you’ll come upon the ruins of the Cleopatra Mine north of the creek. 960 1280

South Dakota Tourism  

Cascada Verde, Ecuador

Cascada Verde, Ecuador

Located in the rainforest of the western slopes of Ecuador, the remote Cascada Verde waterfall can be reached on motorcycle with Ecuador Freedom Bike Tours. After a 20-minute hike through the rainforest, this waterfall offers a refreshing dip after riding the mountain curves. 960 1280

Ecuador Freedom Bike Tours  

Santa Rosa Blue Hole, New Mexico

Santa Rosa Blue Hole, New Mexico

An 80-foot deep crystal clear blue spring fed swimming hole and diving mecca, Santa Rosa Blue Hole is suprisingly located off Route 66, among the arid desert landscapes two hours east of Albuquerque. 960 1280

New Mexico Tourism  

surfers in Biarritz, France
Biarritz, France

Biarritz, France

With friendly locals, groovy cafes and far more enthusiasm about wave reports than Parisian fashion, Biarritz has been called “the California of France” more than once. And now, in a special program funded by the regional Olympic committee, Biarritz doctors are prescribing surfing and other ocean sports as remedies for health problems. The 12-week surfing program is luring more and more people to the waves to heal what ails them.  960 1280

John Harper  

Biarritz, France

Biarritz, France

With this healthy respect for the surfing life, Biarritz is a great choice for newbie surfers. Try Surf Training school; the ultra-experienced surf coach Philippe Beudin will have you catching waves right in to the soft sands of the Cote des Basques beach in no time. 960 1280

Guillaume CHANSON  

Nosara, Costa Rica

Nosara, Costa Rica

Thanks to its warm and consistent waves, the dusty surfing outpost of Nosara is a dreamy locale for beginners to first feel the thrill of riding a wave. With a friendly scene, top-rated surf instructors and rental shops aplenty, Nosara sets you up to succeed. Check out the Safari Surf School; with both day lessons and longer camps, it is a favorite in town. After hours in the water, work out your paddle-weary muscles at one of the many yoga schools in town and sip a smoothie at the boho Harmony Hotel. Wind down your day with a cold Imperial beer on Playa Pelada, the perfect place to watch the sun sink into the ocean. 960 1280

Matteo Colombo  

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Nicaragua’s beaches, generally less populated than Costa Rica’s, are the latest surf hangouts of Central America. San Juan del Sur, a village on the Pacific coast, is surrounded by remote beaches with waves workable for all levels; Remansa, which means “extra calm” in Spanish, is the perfect spot for beginners. Just ask Javier Baldovinos, former coach of the Nicaragua Surf Team, veteran instructor and one of the most respected coaches in town; he’ll hook you up with a board and teach you the basics in one day. Or opt for an awesome all-inclusive surf camp, like Nicaragua Surf Report; here you sleep, eat, and surf with your surf gang for days. The women-only Chica Brava surf camp offers yoga, healthy food and an epic surf adventure. 960 1280

Matthew Micah Wright  

Encinitas, California

Encinitas, California

Encinitas is the dream So-Cal surf town, brah; it’s mellow and friendly, with a lot less of the “locals only” attitude you might find up or down the coast. While you can marvel at the pros out carving on the hardcore beaches like Swamis or Seaside Reef, there are quieter spots further afield for beginners, like the north end of Moonlight Beach. 960 1280

Gabe LHeureux  

Encinitas, California

Encinitas, California

For a thoroughly uplifting first surf experience, check in with Jason Weber at Encinitas Surf Lessons. Weber is a believer in the healing power of the surf, and his Surfing for Empowerment classes are designed to help everyone get in touch with their inner flow. 960 1280

Ashok Sinha  

Maui, Hawaii

Maui, Hawaii

Just because Hawaii is home to killer big waves like the Pipeline doesn’t mean beginners should shy away from the Aloha state. With its warm electric blue waters (no wetsuit needed!), Maui has waves enough for every level. 960 1280

tropicalpix  

Maui, Hawaii

Maui, Hawaii

Although some beaches may have a locals-first rap, that’s no deterrent – you just need an in-the-know resident surfer to lead the way. Zack Howard, a 25-year-veteran of the sport, runs one of the most respected surf schools in Maui and is also a guide to the secret spots that most visitors would miss. 960 1280

Vacclav  

Maui, Hawaii

Maui, Hawaii

The long established Maui Surf Girls, with both daily lessons and camps, is not just for girls; they empower everyone – men, children, grandparents and even dogs included – to get up and feel the power of the wave. 960 1280

Ron Dahlquist  

South Padre, Texas

South Padre, Texas

Texas doesn’t have a reputation for great surf, but there is one place where almost everyone can catch a wave. Down in South Padre, just on the tip of the Texas Coast near Mexico, husband and wife team Rachel and Gene Gore run the South Padre Surf Company where the motto is: “It’s not about how good you are; it’s about how much fun you have.” In a jetty-side beach protected from unpredictable Gulf winds, they teach first timers on foam-topped boards that make everyone feel steady and safe. Standing beside you in the water, they push you out into the wave at just the right moment, and, voila, next thing you know you are floating on water. Exhilarating.  960 1280

Wade Dunkin  

Bakio, Spain

Bakio, Spain

If you want to surf in Spain, set your compass north to the Bay of Biscay in the Basque Country. Mundaka, 23 miles northeast of Bilbao, may be regarded as a surf capital of Spain, but beginners may want try their luck at the lesser known nearby town of Bakio. With few tourists and only a handful of laid-back hotels and restaurants, Bakio has the low-key vibe and regular waves that make the beginner feel welcome. You will want to check out Lokal Surf School, where the fun-loving instructors can teach in Spanish, English or Basque. When you are out in the cool blue water catching your first wave, you’ll be happy beyond words, no matter which language you speak.  960 1280

Mimadeo  

Palau
Palau

Palau

While the Republic of Palau is picturesque, it’s what’s underwater that makes this island so special. This group of Micronesian islands, also known as “The Black Islands,” has crystal-clear water and diverse marine life, making it one of the best scuba-diving spots in the world.  960 1280

Thinkstock  

Niue

Niue

Located in the South Pacific Ocean, northeast of New Zealand, the "Rock of Polynesia" is an adventure lover’s paradise. While there aren’t any sandy beaches to lounge on, there are plenty of caves to explore on land and in the water. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Skopelos, Greece

Skopelos, Greece

Want to escape the touristy Greek isles of Santorini and Mykonos? Head east of mainland Greece to the island of Skopelos. Often referred to as the greenest island in the Aegean Sea, this lush Mediterranean oasis is less commercialized than some of the more popular Greek isles. It also served as a filming location of Mamma Mia. 960 1280

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Favignana, Italy

Favignana, Italy

This butterfly-shaped island off the west coast of Sicily is home to a rocky coastline and crystal-clear water. Those who’ve discovered the island’s charms often enjoy tuna fishing, snorkeling and diving, as well as the chance to feast on the island’s traditional seafood dishes. 960 1280

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Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

This little-known island has some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Brazil. With warm, clear water and abundant marine life, diving here is an outdoor lover’s dream. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

XXXX Island

XXXX Island

The ultimate mancation destination? XXXX Island. Once known as Pumpkin Island, this 15-acre patch of land off the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef has been temporarily renamed by the popular Aussie brewer, which leased the island in 2012 for the next 3 years. Marketed as a "bloke’s island,"  the XXXX has been turned into one big man cave – with, what else, unlimited beer. 960 1280

XXXX Island  

Lofoten Island, Norway

Lofoten Island, Norway

Majestic fjords make this archipelago off Norway a Scandinavian gem. This group of islands, home to charming fishing villages, lies above the Artic Circle (on the same latitude as northern Siberia and northern Alaska), but has a much milder climate due to Gulf Stream currents. Head here between May to early August for 24 hours of daylight. 960 1280

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Aran Islands, Ireland

Aran Islands, Ireland

When you think of Ireland, island hopping probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But off the western coast of Galway lie these beautiful rocky islands where you’ll find traditional customs still intact and the islanders still speaking Irish. 960 1280

Bertrand Rieger  

Socotra Island, Yemen

Socotra Island, Yemen

Roughly 250 miles off the coast of Yemen, this magical group of islands has an other-planet vibe with bizarre-looking, rare plant species. Intrepid travelers who make it here will be rewarded with pristine beaches alongside landscapes of sandstone and limestone. 960 1280

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Vis, Croatia

Vis, Croatia

A small island in the Adriatic Sea, Vis is an unspoiled paradise located off Croatia’s coast. Until 1989, it was still part of Yugoslavia and closed to tourists. Now it’s a dream destination for those seeking a remote romantic getaway or an off-the-beaten path adventure. 960 1280

Jadvinia, Wikimedia Commons  

Monhegan Island, Maine

Monhegan Island, Maine

This small, rocky patch of land off the coast of Maine totals a mere 1 square mile of unspoiled natural beauty. Monhegan is mostly known for its artist colony that sprung up here in the mid-1800s. The island is only accessible by boat, and there are no cars or paved roads here.  960 1280

Thinkstock  

Isla Robinson Crusoe, Chile

Isla Robinson Crusoe, Chile

Where’s the most famous deserted island in the world? Four hundred miles off the coast of Chile sits the real-life island that inspired the story of the shipwrecked sailor Robinson Crusoe. Now the isle’s population is about 500 and mostly clustered in the island's only village, San Juan Bautista. 960 1280

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Koh Surin Nua, Thailand

Koh Surin Nua, Thailand

Looking for an island getaway in Thailand -- that’s not trampled by tourists? Consider this pristine island in Thailand's Mu Koh Surin National Park. You won't find high-end hotels or crowds here -- just small bungalows and camping under the stars. 960 1280

Darlene is evil, flickr  

Andaman Islands, India

Andaman Islands, India

This group of more than 200 islands in the Bay of Bengal belongs to India but is geographically closer to Thailand and Myanmar. Powder-white, uncrowded beaches, lush forests and exotic marine life make travel to these remote islands worth the trip. 960 1280

Olivier Blaise  

Rabbit Island, Cambodia

Rabbit Island, Cambodia

A 30-minute boat trip will take you from Cambodia's coastal city Kep to Rabbit Island. Just a little over 1 square mile in area, this tiny gem in the Gulf of Thailand has 2 unspoiled beaches ideal for swimming and getting away from the chaos of mainland Cambodia. 960 1280

Peter Merrett, Wikimedia Commons  

Flatey, Iceland

Flatey, Iceland

In the Westfjords of Iceland, dubbed “the most famous unknown place in Iceland,” lies this mostly uninhabited island. With charming houses dating back to the 19th century, this island is brimming with history. Visit in the summer for a quiet spot to experience Iceland’s midnight sun. 960 1280

Kolbrún Ragna, Wikimedia Commons  

About the Show

On a mission to find the most spectacular beaches in the world, we're hiking, boating and flying across the globe in search of the most jaw-dropping spots to soak up the sun. From paddleboarding with whales in Oregon to scaling a 40-story cliff in Sardinia and exploring an underwater museum in Mexico, it's the adventure of a lifetime!

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