Are These the Best Beach Destinations in the World?

See this year's top beach rankings from U.S. News & World Report

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If you're a frequent visitor to travel booking sites or content outlets, you're probably familiar with U.S. News & World Report, publisher of annual rankings on best vacation destinations, among other things. This year, the well-known media company has pinpointed the best places in the U.S., the Caribbean and the world to vacation in 2017 and 2018. And it should come as no surprise that top beach towns — plus a few newcomers — were among the winners. Read on to find out which places rank as the best beach destinations in the world.

Best Places to Visit in the U.S.

best beach destinations in the world A beautiful coastline in Maui, Hawaii.

Hawaii's capital city, Honolulu, and the island of Maui ranked as third and fourth best beaches in the United States — not surprising if you've ever seen Diamond Head's dramatic volcanic peak or Kaanapali Beach's serene coastal stretch.

Kauai, yet another Hawaiian destination, took the third spot, proving it can wow travelers with its dense rainforests and high mountain peaks. Only New York City and Philadelphia ranked higher than the Hawaiian island trio in U.S. News & World Report's list.

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Best Caribbean Destinations

best beach destinations in the world The Baths at Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

Recognition also went to three Caribbean destinations often overshadowed by bigger island nations. The British Virgin Islands, home to the unique and unforgettable Baths at Virgin Gorda, took the top spot for "Best Beaches in the Caribbean."

French-inspired Guadeloupe, made up of five main islands and home to one of few UNESCO Biosphere Reserves around the world, came in second, and St. Lucia, famous for mountains, rainforests, waterfalls and beaches, took the third spot.

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Best Beach Destinations in the World

best beach destinations in the world Crystalline water and lush scenery in Bora Bora.

Santorini, Galápagos Islands and Bora Bora, three exotic, eye-catching destinations, topped U.S News & World Report's list of "Best Islands in the World," and Bali, Amalfi Coast and Honolulu-Oahu, all renowned for their unique mix of natural beauty and cultural assets, took the top three spots for "Best Beaches in the World."

But which destination has bragging rights as the best destination to visit worldwide? This year that honor went to Rome, cosmopolitan capital city brimming with art, culture and history, plus easy access to coastal beach towns like Santa Marinella and Ostia.

Sydney, Australia was featured second on the publisher's cream-of-the-crop destinations list. Though it may not immediately come to mind as a beach town, there are in fact a number of fantastic beaches dotting the area's coastline, such as famous Bondi Beach, one of the most popular tourist hot spots in the country.

best beach destinations in the world Foz do Duoro, Porto. Photo: Theresa Boehl

Third runner-up Porto, Portugal, is known primarily for its wine of the same name, but it also boasts rugged Atlantic stretches, especially in the Foz do Duoro seaside district.

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