From isolated island shores in Norway to sandy coves on the South Wales coast, we reveal the crowd-free beaches you need to explore, as recommended by Wanderlust readers...
"The Caribbean? Thailand? Fiji? No. The Lofoten Islands in the North of Norway. More specifically, Breivika beach on Vaeroy Island. I stumbled across this remote beach after taking a ferry from the mainland. White sand with a turquoise sea was something I had hardly expected in this part of the world. Surrounded by a raw landscape with just a few fishermen's houses in view, I was the only soul to be seen on the beach."
– Nigel McGrath
"My pick for the best lesser known/secret beach would have to be the Praia Do Penedo beach in Porto Santo – the small Portuguese island in the Atlantic Ocean, neighboured by Madeira. It is covered in soft, golden sand and surrounded by crystal clear waters. It is also claimed that the sand on Porto Santo’s beaches has healing properties. All the beaches on Porto Santo are pretty quiet but the Praia Do Pendo is the quietest of the lot, which is probably due to its location at the far end of the island."
– Cynthis Walker
"Embleton Bay in Northumberland has it all: the prerequisite white sand, rockpools, basking seals and diverse birdlife, but it also has a dramatic ruined Norman castle at one end of the bay (used as Macbeth's Castle in the Polanski film). At the other end is the tiny village of Low Newton with its renowned Ship Inn that has its own microbrewery, as well as a menu of delicious inexpensive food. Best of all, it's often empty other than the odd dog walker or fisherman."
– Jennifer Turner
"My favourite beach would have to be Cala Deià in Spain. It’s a 30 minute walk from the beautiful Deià village, but is nearly impossible to fit on a bus from Palma to Deià because its such a beautiful area and buses only run every two hours or so. The beach is completely secluded from the hustle and bustle of the big cities and villages of the island; not many people go because it's so difficult to get there. There's an exquisite seafood restaurant to eat at when you're there, so you can put your feet up after a long hot walk. It's a tiny beach, but well and truly worth the walk to get there."
– Olivia Rennie
“Vatersay Beach in the Outer Hebrides has glorious white sands, turquoise sea and you can have the whole beach to yourself. Why not fly there and land on the adjoining Isle of Barra – reputedly the only place in the world where your plane lands on a beach.”
– Mary Wilson
“There is a reef not far from the shore and the swimming is really safe within the confines of the beach and reef, making it perfect for families, non-swimmers and every other denomination.”
– Helen Edmondson
"Sinemorets is a touristy, resort destination with the stereotypical crowded beaches in sight of its high-rise hotels. However, turn right and walk along the coast – with a few rocky scrambles – to reach the hidden gem, Linden Beach. The Black Sea is to the left, a thick forest of Linden trees to the right and a silver-sanded beach that stretches between them. We felt like we had chanced upon a lost ornament when we returned to the crowds. But it was okay to keep this one tucked into our sleeves. Linden Beach felt like a very personal discovery."
– Nandini Chakraborty
"Pwll Du is located on the Gower Peninsula, just outside of Swansea. Once a haven for smugglers, this is a small, secluded and little-known pebble beach with a sandy cove at low tide. It is surrounded by beautiful scenery and is accessed only by a couple of footpaths and is therefore limited to the more adventurous traveller. It is great for water-sports and you are allowed to walk your dog on the beach."
– Chris Ashmore
"There is a spot for all at Marahau Beach and it's the perfect place to find peace for the soul. It offers boating and kayaking opportunities around its many small islands, as well as the chance of spotting marine animals, magnificent scenery, and even a hike through the nearby national park. Its history abounds with tales of early adventurers and settlers sailing the coast from around the world – even old shipwrecks are still visible."
– Pat Reed