10 of the best beach holidays for 2024

Beat the winter blues by planning a relaxing beach break for 2024. This way for sun, sea, and sand…

What better way to cheer up the winter months than to think about booking a beach holiday? The thought of sun-soaked sands, turquoise waters and balmy breezes are enough to lift anyone’s spirits at this gloomy time of year. 

And if you’re looking for the ultimate beach break, we’ve got it here, thanks to the experts at Saga Travel, who have rounded up some of the best stretches of coastline in idyllic locations.

From the Spanish Costas to the Ionian and Aegean islands of Greece, the Indian Ocean atolls of the Maldives and the silky dunes of Dubai – if you’re dreaming of a blissed-out beach holiday this year, here’s some inspiration.

Top ten best beach holiday destinations featuring a beach in the MaldivesCredit: Shutterstock/icemanphotos
From Dubai to Sri Lanka, we take a look at the best beach holidays for 2024

1. Dubai

Best for sultry sand dunes and luxury hotels

Decadence and Dubai go hand in hand – which is why this member of the UAE is such a hit with travellers looking for luxury beach holidays.

Book into a five-star hotel on the Palm Jumeirah and you’ll be treated to silky ivory sand and panoramic sea views (as well as plenty of privacy). It’s the perfect place to recharge and gives you easy access to the promenades running along Marina Beach and JBR Beach.

Dubai is somewhere to indulge, with the world’s second largest shopping centre, the Dubai Mall, offering air-conditioned retail therapy in the form of designer names and high street favourites. Here, you can also combine time at the beach with browsing the city’s spice-scented souks or take off on a desert safari on a camel, dune buggy or 4×4.

Explore along the coast and you’ll come to the snow-white sands of Jebel Ali Beach, which overlooks the Palm Jebel Ali as it spreads its fronds into the Arabian Gulf.

On the other side of the Palm Jumeirah, you’ll find Sufouh and Public Beach as well as Kite Beach, which is popular with – you guessed it – kite surfers. And there’s nothing better after an afternoon of sunbathing than strolling along the sand as the city’s skyscrapers start to twinkle and the sun slowly sinks into the horizon.

The best time to visit Dubai

If you head to Dubai in the summer – June to August – the midday heat is almost unbearable. Most will avoid the beach from 11am to 3pm and opt for late afternoon, instead.

September and October or April and May, on the other hand, are lovely and warm. Even the winter months, from November to March, see average temperatures in the mid-twenties.

2. Mainland Spain

Best for sunshine and siestas

When it comes to Europe’s best beach destinations, Spain is always in the mix. From the wide sandy belt that forms Playa de Berria on the Costa de Cantabria, to the bustling promenade lining Alicante’s Blue Flag-awarded San Juan Playa on the Costa Blanca, there’s plenty of choice for sand-seeking travellers.

Head south and the Costa Tropical in Andalucía lives up to all expectations. Playa de Calahonda, in particular, offers prime golden sands and crystalline waters, with sleepy, virgin stretches and spots that are ripe for fishing and snorkelling.

Don’t discount Barcelona when you’re looking for a beach break in Spain either. The capital of Catalonia has some of the country’s best stretches of sand, including San Sebastian, Barceloneta and Playa Mar –all within walking distance of the city’s mesmerising Gothic Quarter.

Whichever part of Spain you’re visiting, when you’re not sunning yourself by the waves, there are characterful whitewashed towns to explore, tapas platters to tuck into, and chiringuito bars to raise a toast in.

The best time to visit Spain

Keep in mind that the further south you go the hotter the temperatures become – especially from June to September.

Northern Spain beach destinations, however, often have far more comfortable temperatures in summer. Also, many of the more popular beach resorts, such as those along the Costa Brava and Costa del Sol, can unsurprisingly pull in larger crowds.

The shoulder months – April, May, and October – are often the best time to visit for fewer people, more comfortable temperatures, and a more authentic local atmosphere.

3. The Maldives

Best for overwater villas and underwater magic

Barefoot luxury beach holidays are what the Maldives does best. Here, you can snorkel over multi-coloured coral gardens (like those near Turtle Island Beach, on Dhaalu Atoll), and dive into limpid lagoons (Baros Island Beach, on North Malé Atoll, is one of the best).

Award-winning spas and fine dining resorts line up on private islands like Niyama, along with traditional thatched-roof suites with their own pools.

For the best views, treat yourself to an overwater bungalow and spend time gazing into the Indian Ocean by day and up at the stars by night.

Long Beach on Dhigurah, in South Ari Atoll, is a great example of Indian Ocean loveliness and the perfect place to live out your desert island fantasies. This narrow strip of sand ebbs and flows where the atoll’s lagoon meets the ocean and provides local families and travellers with a chance to paddle and enjoy a picnic under the shade of breadfruit trees.

The best time to visit the Maldives

Head to the Maldives anytime during November through to April and you’ll find dry and hot conditions. Although the rest of the year can be a bit wet and humid, fortune favours the brave and May to September is still a good time to go to the Maldives if you don’t mind a short-lived shower or two.

4. Greece

Best for spectacular scenery and ancient ruins

Lots of the beaches in Greece come with a side-order of seafood tavernas and atmospheric bars. Others come just as they are, with a tranquil, miles-from-anywhere feel.

Island hopping is a great way to discover some of the best stretches, such as Perissa and Kamari on glamorous Santorini, and Tripiti on peaceful Naxos. Set sail around the blues of the Aegean, and Agia Kiriaki Beach on Milos and Fokos Beach in northern Mykonos are well worth digging out your sun hat for.

If you’re interested in the islands of the Ionian, stop by Paleokastritsa, in the northwest of Corfu. This legendary location is where Odysseus was said to be castaway on the island of the Phaeacians. Sandy stretches aside, there’s incredible cuisine, a UNESCO-listed old town, and the ruined Temple of Artemis to discover.

The best time to visit Greece

Come to Greece in the summer and you’ll find many of the beaches are bursting with sunbathers. That said, there are plenty of isolated island coves and bays to go around, as well as sailing and snorkelling and charter boats ready and willing to whisk you away to crystal clear waters with no one else around.

5. The Caribbean

Best for tropical shores and calypso culture

The Caribbean is a tropical treat for travellers seeking sun, sand, and swaying coconut palms. Head to Barbados and you’ll find the powdery white sands of Paynes Bay Beach and Batts Rock Beach on the Platinum Coast irresistible. This stretch of shoreline to the west of the island has become the home of notable billionaires and attracts a sophisticated crowd. It’s also where you can book into some of the Caribbean’s most exclusive all-inclusive hotels and resorts.

Over on St Lucia, Reduit Beach, close to Pigeon Island National Park, is popular with locals and travellers alike. It’s one of the island’s largest beaches and close to the waterside restaurants in Rodney Bay marina. Travel south on St Lucia and the resort of Sugar Beach provides a spectacular setting in between the two volcanic Pitons. Although its white sands are imported, you won’t find many complaining thanks to the stunning tropical views.

Elsewhere, the Bahamas pairs colossal resorts and entertainment hubs with picture-perfect beaches. Paradise Island is a big-hitter for first timers. Here, you’ll find the iconic Atlantis hotels and spectacular Cabbage Beach. It’s super clean and an ideal location to enjoy snorkelling before or after a round of golf at the local course.

Journey to Jamaica and you’ll find Seven Mile Beach on the island’s west coast vying for the Caribbean’s coveted top spot of best beach holiday destination. This peaceful setting rarely gets crowded and there are plenty of places to grab some spicy jerk chicken to keep you sated until the spectacular sunset.

Another fantastic option is Antigua. The island’s 86-kilometre coastline boasts 365 beaches – a different stretch for every day of the year. As a rule of thumb, Antigua’s west coast is the place to be for things to do close to the beaches of St John’s and Jolly Harbour.

The best time to visit the Caribbean

The best time to go to the Caribbean is from February through to June, as this is when there’s the least chance of rain.

July to November can be wet and wild, with September and October bringing in tropical storms and hurricanes.

6. Thailand

Best for laid-back living and island escapes

The beaches of Thailand have long been Southeast Asia’s most sought-after. Travel to northwest Phuket and you’ll find some of the best – the white sands of Mai Khao Beach, for instance, are a must for travellers looking for tropical views without the crowds. Explore inland from the Andaman and Phang Nga Bay provides yet more beautiful, but lesser-known, beaches, with the island of Koh Yao Noi bound to appeal to lovers of rustic luxury.

Looking for a lively atmosphere? Head for Patong, in Phuket. It’s home to a crescent-shaped bay and a mix of souvenir markets and international restaurants. It’s a bit like Bangkok by the beach so be prepared for bright lights and late-night bars.

You’ll find a much more peaceful stretch of Andaman coastline further north, in Khao Lak. Untouched beaches and tropical forests are the order of the day here, with the mountains and waterfalls of Khao Lak-Lam Ru National Park providing a backdrop.

The best time to visit Thailand

If a Thailand beach break sounds ideal, the best time to go is over the winter, from October through to April. You’ll be practically guaranteed back-to-back sunny days without the humidity and afternoon showers associated with the rest of the year.

7. Sri Lanka

Best for cultural contrasts and coconut curries

You’ll find some of Sri Lanka’s best beaches either side of Colombo, on the west coast. Starting from Negombo the golden swathes of sand stretch all the way down to Kalutara and further south to Galle.

From here, you can see turtles within the calm waters of Wijaya Beach, while Mirissa Beach, just along the south coast, is popular with surfers looking for Indian Ocean swells.

The teardrop-shaped island is also an ideal setting for exploring, and if you’re looking to combine a beach break with a tour of a tea estate or a visit to a Hindu temple, this is the place to do it.

If you’re staying at a west coast beach resort north of Negombo, Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle – which features the sacred sites of Kandy, Sigiriya rock fortress and the ancient city of Anuradhapura – is just a two-hour drive inland.

The best time to visit Sri Lanka

The best time to enjoy a Sri Lanka beach holiday is from December to March. This is when you’ll find the coastline at its driest and if there is a chance of an afternoon rain shower, it’ll be over before you know it.

8. Mauritius

Best for seafood and snorkelling

Surrounded by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, the island of Mauritius is famous for its seamless sandy coastline.

The west coast, especially, boasts some beautiful beaches stretching from Trou-aux-Biches and Grand Baie, in the north, to Tamarin and Bel Ombre, in the south. And the calm and clear shallows around Cap Malheureux make this Mauritius’s top spot for snorkelling. The sunsets are incredible, too.

Southern Le Morne, also, is no slouch when it comes to sumptuous sand and is close to the multi-coloured sand dunes of Chamarel plain. Head further inland, and you’ll discover extensive hiking trails in the rainforest clad slopes of Black River Gorges National Park.

Explore elsewhere and you’ll find amazing views from the top of the dormant Trou Aux Cerfs Volcano. And if you’re based at pristine Flic En Flac beach, the gently flowing Tamarind Falls make for a lovely day trip.

The best time to visit Mauritius

Nothing beats a delicious fish curry in Mauritius and no matter what time of year you’re travelling, this classic local dish is a must-try.

Even in the rainy season from January to April, you can pop into Port Louis and seek out a restaurant on Le Caudan Waterfront and wait for the sun to come out again.

Of course, if you’re hoping for heat, head to Mauritius during July and August and you won’t be disappointed. Meanwhile, either side of summer is when the weather in Mauritius is just right.

9. Hawaii

Best for iconic beach resorts and Polynesian roots

Hawaii offers up rideable waves, postcard-worthy scenery and fabulous hotels – the resort of Waikiki, on Oahu island, is up there with the best of them. Head to Maui and it’s Ka’anapali Beach that steals the show with views over Molokai Island and sensational sunsets. Another great choice is Kalihiwai Beach, to the north of Kauai, which has a lush rainforest backdrop.

This is the perfect place to enjoy an island-hopping holiday, so you can find out more about the historic locations of Honolulu and Pearl Harbour as well as hike in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

If you prefer your Polynesian beach breaks from an all-inclusive angle there are some amazing hotels and spa resorts all over. From oceanfront pools and international restaurants to easy access to a whole host of late-night music venues and beachside tiki bars, if you like your holidays with a touch of hula, Hawaii’s where you head to.

The best time to visit Hawaii

Hawaii’s summer season runs from March to September, and this is the best time to go to spend time at the beach. Temperatures often peak in the late twenties at this time of year, and you can expect the Pacific to be bath-warm during July and August.

10. Bali

Best for surfing, spirituality, and spa retreats

Travel south of Bali’s capital, Denpasar, and you’ll find yourself spoiled for choice when it comes to sublime stretches of sand. Nusa Dua and Sanur, in the southeast, are perfect for peaceful beach breaks while on the southwest coast, Kuta and Padang Padang provide the best surf this side of Australia.

Explore in central Bali and it’s the tea plantations, spa retreats and temples close to Ubud that offer alternatives to the island’s beach holiday destinations. Of course, if you’re up for an Indonesian odyssey, you can combine Bali’s cultural locations with its sandy spots to give you the best of both worlds.

Consider an offshore adventure and choose from the neighbouring island of Lombok and the Indonesian archipelago of the Gili Islands. The Gillis – Trawangan, Meno and Air – are ideal for beach lovers, especially those seeking palm-fringed sand, snorkelling spots over coral reefs and laid-back beach bars.

The best time to visit Bali

Balinese summers tend to fall between May and September. This is when you’ll find the warmest and driest months as well as lots of friendly Aussie holidaymakers making the most of the weather and the surf.

Written by Elle Hammond she/her