National Geographic has compiled a diverse list of the world’s most spectacular beaches, ranging from the idyllic, through the unusual, to the ecologically important.
The Caribbean has bagged two places in the top 21, with Curacao’s Cas Abao Beach fitting firmly into the tropical paradise niche, and Belize’s South Water Caye Reserve finding favour for the integrity of its marine ecosystems.
Cas Abao, with its clear turquoise water, whispering palms and pristine white sand, is said to be the realisation of the tropical dream, ideal for relaxation and watersports.
There’s a beach masseur ready to soothe stress away, while watersports include snorkelling, diving, kayaking, banana boat rides and a water trampoline.
There’s also a restaurant open daily for lunch and snacks, while the popular daiquiri bar is always a big draw.
Moving on to Belize, South Water Caye Marine Reserve is the second largest in the country and was established by the Fisheries Department in 1996 in recognition of the marine ecosystems and its national, regional and international importance.
The area is a priority for conservation due to its rich biodiversity, supporting an oceanic mangrove system and extensive seagrass meadows, which provide habitats for many commercial and non-commercial species.
Mangrove cayes also provide nesting sites for many important bird species and the area is also utilized by marine turtles for nesting.
South Water Caye Marine Reserve is one of the seven protected areas that form the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System World Heritage Site designated by UNESCO.
Meanwhile, the beach to head the list of the top 21 in the world is Lazy Beach in Cambodia, which is lauded for its silky white sand and crystalline waters.