Imagine waking up, opening the curtains and seeing the bluest waters in the world waiting on your doorstep. Only it’s not a dream! We’ve found 12 hotels next to some of the clearest blue waters found anywhere on Earth
1 Shipwreck Beach, Zakynthos, Greece
You’ve seen the pictures, but nothing prepares you for Shipwreck Beach. A near-perfect bay of azure waters shielded by vertical cliffs and a smuggler’s ship plonked right on the beach as if by Zeus himself.
Zakynthos’ world-famous beach is everything and more. As you approach it by boat (because there’s no other way) you’ll realise you’re sailing in some of the clearest blue waters on the planet.
Stay: Paradisso Beach Villas has 3 sea-facing villas (sleeping 2-5) on a small private cove in eastern Zakynthos. It’s just 35 minutes by car to Shipwreck Beach.
2Seven Mile Beach, Jamaica
Beaches are 2 a penny in Jamaica, but Negril’s Seven Miles Beach is a 7th heaven for travellers in search of the brightest blue waters. Simply rock up, soak in the vibes, and choose the ‘mile’ that suits you best. Then float away on crystal-clear bliss.
Stay: The Caves is set on a clifftop just outside Negril and has gorgeous rooms, plus an exceptional restaurant and rum bar. It’s perfect for couples.
3Baa Atoll, the Maldives
Baa Atoll is unlike anywhere in the world for one simple reason: it’s where you can swim with hundreds of manta rays and whale sharks. Visit from June-November to experience these gentle giants in the clearest blue waters imaginable. The visibility is practically bottomless.
Stay: Soneva Fushi is an escapist’s dream resort of unquestionable service and luxury privacy, with a brilliant commitment to preserving Baa Atoll’s unique biosphere.
4Cala Macarelleta, Menorca
Of all the bays in beautiful Menorca, none can match the wonder of Cala Macarelleta. Located on the southern coast, and accessible only by walking trail or boat, its diamond-clear shores attract snorkellers, swimmers and sun-worshippers in droves (plus a few nudists).
Stay: Hotel Ses Sucreses is a bohemian village hotel with just 6 rooms and suites. It’s a breezy 10-minute cycle to Cala Macarelleta.
5Pentle Bay, Isles of Scilly
Wild, pristine and crowd-free even in high summer, Tresco’s Pentle Bay regularly lays claim to Britain’s most beautiful beach. But the real revelation is an unnamed stretch of sand just beyond Pentle – we like to call it ‘Blockhouse Bay’ – which boasts the clearest blue waters this side of the Caribbean. Remember to pinch yourself.
Stay: Sea Garden Cottages has stylish beach pads (sleeping 2-10) with a restaurant, sailing school and indoor pool.
6North Island, the Seychelles
Barely a mile long, this tiny private island is a jewel of the Seychelles. Often called the ‘most exclusive honeymoon spot in the world’, North Island has 4 sensational beaches – each with dazzling white sands and sapphire-blue lagoons. Your only neighbour will be a Giant Tortoise dozing under a palm leaf.
Stay: North Island is an incredible all-inclusive sanctuary of just 11 beachfront villas – the ultimate tropical escape.
7Rio Celeste, Costa Rica
Hidden in the northwest mountains, Rio Celeste is one of those wonders of the world that Mother Nature bestows on humanity to remind us who’s boss. These spellbinding waters are created by volcanic minerals in the riverbed, which turn the river’s surface a striking, otherworldly turquoise. Visit in the dry season (December-April).
Stay: Nayara Hotel Spa & Garden is an elegant boutique hotel with beautiful casitas, only a 90-minute scenic drive to Rio Celeste.
8Ponta da Piedade, Portugal
The dramatic cliff-topped western Algarve is home to some of the most spectacular coastlines in Europe, but its crowning glory is the Ponta da Piedade. A labyrinth of caves and hidden bays, you’ll find empty shorelines with the clearest blue waters you’ve ever seen. And it’s all yours.
Stay: OceanBlueis an activity-based hilltop retreat with 4 self-catering apartments (sleeping 2-4), just 20 minutes away by car. Superb value for money.
9 The Anambas Islands, Indonesia
The barely-known Anambas Islands are one of the last untouched paradises on earth. Located deep in the South China Sea, on the extreme northern border of Indonesia, these miraculous idylls are dotted with azure lagoons, magnificent reefs and pristine sandy beaches which have never seen a human footprint.
Stay: Bawah Reserve is an all-inclusive private-island luxury retreat with that rarest of modern commodities – blissful isolation. Special offer: 5 nights for 4
Quieter than Mykonos, cheaper than Santorini, tiny Folegandros is the island Greeks speak about in hushed tones, less tourists get wind of its wonders. Gorgeous Agali Beach, in the south, has some of the clearest blue waters in the Aegean. More hidden beaches await down the coast.
This astonishing geothermal pool in the heart of Iceland’s volcanic south peninsula is a one-of-a-kind experience. Float in the warm, milky-blue waters while nourishing your hair and skin, thanks to its nutrient-rich minerals. Locals swear by its healing powers.
Stay: 101 Hotel is a hip design hideaway in the heart of Reykjavik with fabulously comfy beds. Blue Lagoon is just 40 minutes by car.
12Havelock Island, the Andaman Islands
Havelock’s location in the far-flung Andaman Islands is truly a godsend. Being so remote, its stunning beaches and electric blue waters will (hopefully) never be discovered by mass tourism. But for divers and snorkellers, this is blue nirvana.
Stay: Barefoot at Havelock is a blissful hideaway with gorgeous tropical cottages next to Radhanagar Beach – often called ‘Asia’s best beach’.